It was used as a question mark. Used as a comma. Technical journals required a certain number of them in each publication. The Son of Sam killer was thought to be a freelance journalist because he knew how to use it.
Now, the point-virgule is an endangered species. Frankly, I don’t like them. Not at all. A comma is a simple short pause, and a semicolon is like a train wreck. The reader is paralyzed, not knowing what to do or understanding how or why the previous and following portions of a sentence are connected or even related.
The only time I advocate using a semicolon is when writing game text that has run out of other kinds of punctuation. When you’ve already used a comma, dash, and colon in the same sentence, you have no choice.