Emoticons Celebrate Birthday

Posted on September 19, 2012 · Posted in News

Nice interesting story I noticed today, Did you know emoticons have been around for 30 years! It’s true in fact the first :-) appeared on the internet in 1982, sent in an email by professor Scott Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University.

That makes today the 30th web birthday of emoticons like :-( and :-/. The major plus of these emoticons have been the fact they have saved countless people from the embarrassment of a message being misinterpreted by its recipient.

Fahlman has been mostly mystified by his unintentional impact on worldwide communications, reportedly saying: ‘It was ten minutes of my life. I expected my note might amuse a few of my friends, and that would be the end of it.‘ But it’s clear that emoticons are not going away anytime soon.

Their range and variety has grown in line with their popularity, and there have even been regional styles that are as easy to differentiate as accents. A study in 2009 found that East Asians and Western Europeans/North Americans interpreted facial expressions differently, with the former focusing on the eyes while the latter focused on the whole face. The authors proposed this as the reason the two cultures style their emoticons differently so, for example, someone living in the UK might feel a bit :'( while someone from Korea may think of themselves as more (╯︵╰,).

And while emoticons may have been introduced to the web by Fahlman, he’s definitely not the first person to use them in any way throughout history. A New York Times transcript of a speech by Abraham Lincoln from 1862 was found to contain an ;). It may have been just a typo, although a extremely unlikely one. There is also evidence of these character combinations being used as shorthand in telegrams, where space was limited, as early as the 1850’s.

So, they’ve been around for a while. Where next for emoticons let me know by leaving a comment below?