The symbol was commissioned by Bertrand Russell for the Committee of 100, an anti nuclear direct action (civil disobedience) group in England.
The Committee of 100, staged 'sit down' demonstrations where as many as 2,500 people were arrested in a single day and some served as long as five years in jail. The symbol is a combination of the semaphore (flag signals) of "N" and "D" combined. It was created in 1954 and the original artwork was purple and green. It was later adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and became the official anti nuclear arms symbol.