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Schulz put *sigh* in American print vernacular
John Gruber, of Mac blog Daringfireball fame, noted the increasing number of times he sees people use (*cough*) as a visual indicator of a verbal response to something the author just stated. After tweeting his curiosity on the matter, David Friedman ran it through Google Books looking to see when it started *cough* came into wide usage. Also searched was the word *sigh*.
What they found was *cough* began in the 1990’s and really took off in the 2000’s which makes sense as early internet email and forums didn’t have the ability to italicizes words so wrapping them in asterisks was the norm. But *sigh* predates the Internet by several decades appearing in the 1960’s. Their theory of where *sigh* comes from: