Paul Mathis, owner of the Soul Mama, SOS and 100 Mile Cafe restaurants in Melbourne, said he wants his symbol -- which resembles "Th" with a shared stem -- to become a feature on keyboards for mobile devices, The Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday.
"The word 'and' is only the fifth-most used word in English and it has its own symbol -- the ampersand," Mathis said. "Isn't it time we accorded the same respect to 'the'?"
"The main functionality of this is in the texting space," he said.
Typing the symbol he has devised with a single keystroke will save time and -- crucially, in the context of Twitter -- two characters."
Mathis said Apple was less than impressed with the app he designed to add the symbol to the iPhone's keyboard.
"Apps should be engaging and exciting, enabling users to do something they couldn't do before; or to do something in a way they couldn't do before or better than they could do it before," Apple said in its rejection letter to Mathis.
Mathis said he is hoping the symbol will gain popularity, even if he is not around to see it.
"The Benedictine monks developed the modern version of the ampersand in the Middle Ages, when they were hand-copying religious texts," he says. "I'm not putting myself in the same league, but who knows – maybe in 500 years' time people will be amazed that there was a time when we didn't use 'th.'"