Having had very little math(s) education I'm trying to bring myself up to speed for university, which currently involves teaching myself the times tables, where
X is frequently used as the operator for multiplication (at least here in the UK). As far as I know this is the oldest multiplication symbol attested to in the Western world. I also know that beyond high-school level and especially in academia, the interpunct (
·) is more common, and was originally advocated by Leibniz in a letter to Bernoulli:
"I do not like X as a symbol for multiplication, as it is easily confounded with x; ... often I simply relate two quantities by an interposed dot and indicate multiplication by ZC · LM."
Apparently it's also relatively common to use a simple full-stop, and I'm sure there are even more operators in use beyond these three.
Why then, given all these common and more intuitive options, do so many programming languages use an entirely new symbol (
*) to indicate multiplication?
Which language first used the asterisk for multiplication, and what was the reasoning for doing so?