Upon returning from the US and Ann Arbor to Italy (BIG mistake!) I was hired by Control Data, a then powerful IT player.
CDC was on the Net since its inception, so I had to choose an Email address for myself. The corporate guideline suggested to use an acronym made from first, middle, and final initial but, as you know, Italians don't use a middle initial. So I settled on ALessandro Forghieri (ALF), which sounds like a name, and became firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you think this sounds cool, well, think again. The corporate guidelines were baloney - they often are - and shortly after this, Control Data adopted a pigheaded fuzzy address matching algorithm for mail routing. As a consequence,I started getting the mail of this Alf-Hansen-external guy (no doubt he was getting mine). At this point, I had about 20 logins by the "alf" user name, though, and rather than changing that, I slightly changed my email address to email@example.com - rather uncool, really, but at least it fixed the matching snafu.
What follows is history. I left Control Data, after a while, but the address stuck, and around the net I was known as alf, and so I decided to keep it. Besides, have you ever tried to spell "Alessandro Forghieri" to some non-Italian speaking person? Alf is much quicker than "firstname.lastname@example.org". And then, there's the pop culture bit...
As it happens, alf (short for alien life form) was the name of a popular character in a US television show in the late 1980s. The main character is a being from outer space, and it looks like a warthog, which is not what I look like, in case you're wondering - look at us side by side and see if you can spot the difference. I actually have much shorter hair, these days.
This looked like a "kewl" thing to have in a newtwork moniker, which reinforced my sick affection for it, and explains why my incarnation on IRC is "al_Form" ("alien_life_form" is too long, darn).
Things change. Upon my arrival in think3, I found different naming guidelines - which make me "alfo" instead of simply alf - and a shiny new email address: email@example.com.
Well, "alfo" and "alf" being quite similar, it's no wonder I still refer to myself - on the net, at least - as alf; besides, my private email still is (and will be for the foreseeable future) firstname.lastname@example.org
And that's all, folks.