I cannot find documentation of this anywhere. I am assuming from context that this goes a id lookup of a dom object and returns the object. Is that correct? If someone could point me to documentation of this, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks,

no it didnot return any dom object taking id. if u want to do that u should use getElementById('idname') method of document object.

OK, I finally found the answer to my own question: Not sure what the best reference is, but here is one that lists some common functions and includes the $(), or if you want to find it via google the dollar function:

http://www.dustindiaz.com/top-ten-javascript/

From the Ecmascript specification:

The dollar sign ($) and the underscore (_) are permitted anywhere in an identifier. The dollar sign is intended for use only in mechanically generated code.

The $() function is not standard javascript and is used by most libraries to stand for the most commonly used function : getElementById().