According to Wikipedia the exclamation point in the form we know it today came in the middle ages. As with most words, at least from what I can tell from the Scripps Spelling Bee, came from Latin. The idea is explained as being taken from an exclamation of "joy" which in Latin was represented by "io". As the legend continues into the middle ages where "io" also was said to mean "hurray". Later the modern form that we all know and love "!" was introduced. As time when on the mark was referred to as the "sign of admiration" in the 15th century by the English. Then in the 17th century admiration referred to a "sense of wonderment".
What a wonderful piece of punctuation! Why do we not use it more? According to a speaker I saw some time back, Bridget Brennan, author of The Female Factor, women tend to use the exclamation point far more often than men. You need only to look at the cover of any number of magazines aimed at women and compare them to those aimed at men to see that she is right. You can also check your text messages which in my experience have way more exclamation points than those coming from any of the men I know.
I wonder why this is. Do women have more "joy" than men? Do we have more of a "sense of wonder" than men? Do we say "HURRAY" more than men? Does anyone really say "HURRAY" anymore? (I can tell you this much, my spell check doesn't recognize the word, did it disappear?)
I don't actually know the answers to any of those questions and while I could have researched further for you, it defeats the point of this soliloquy. The point is, whether you are male or female, shouldn't we be using exclamation points more? If it means JOY, HURRAY and a SENSE OF ADMIRATION AND WONDERMENT, sign me up!