The character can be traced back to the first century AD. It was originally a ligature of the letters E and T (“et” is Latin for the word “and”). But the word “ampersand” wasn’t added to dictionaries until 1837. The word was created as a slurred form of “and, per se and”, which was what the alphabet ended with when recited in English-speaking schools.
According to another reference, “The symbol (as it is known today) was designed by German typesetter Manfred Johann Amper in 1634 as an abbreviation for the German word “und”, which means “and” in English; hence the symbol was first known as “Amper’s ‘and’ “, which was eventually syncopated into “ampersand”, the term by which we know it today.”
How about them apples!