The word might have been lost as a newspaperman’s inside joke, but in 1840 President Martin Van Buren plied it in his campaign for a second term. Then came the telegraph, with dots and dashes that meant newfound appreciation for any two-letter word.
“OK was put to electronic use almost as soon as electronic use ... was born,” Metcalf writes. “The telegraph, the railroad and OK ... By mid-century ... the three were permanently intertwined.”
As American business hummed along wires and rails, everything was OK. Q: How’s the cotton harvest? A: OK.