The Standard Generalized Markup Language (ISO 8879:1986 SGML) is an ISO Standard metalanguage in which one can define markup languages for documents. SGML is a descendant of IBM's Generalized Markup Language (GML), developed in the 1960s by Charles Goldfarb, Edward Mosher and Raymond Lorie (whose surname initials were used by Goldfarb to make up the term GML).
SGML provides an abstract syntax that can be realized in many different concrete syntaxes. For instance, although it is the norm to use angle brackets as tag delimiters in an SGML document - per the reference concrete syntax defined in the standard - it is possible to use other characters instead if a suitable concrete syntax is defined in the document's SGML Declaration. GML used a colon to introduce a tag, a period to end it, and 'e' to indicate an end tag:
:xmp.thus:exmp., and SGML is flexible enough to accept that grammar, too.
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