Origins of Emoticons

Pictorial representation of actions and feelings has been around for decades but has only recently come into popular use.

Emoticons, which is short for emotive icons, or “smileys’,are a great way of using textual “body language’ to clarify universal meanings when emailing or communicating in other ways textually. In this day of trans-global communication using the mediums of chat rooms, email, bulletin boards and mobile phone text messaging, emotions allow practical, quick and easily understood way of showing feeling and hence in meaning.

It is useful to show a smile face if limit text is allowed for messaging.

The Hacker’s Dictionary describes the emoticon as a vital way to prevent misunderstandings between hackers that could lead to arguments and flame wars. 

Along with the smiley are textual abbreviations used in electronic communications to also convey emotions or actions which would otherwise be impractical to write out or show fully, for instance “loE (Laugh Out Loud).
In 1963 the yellow smiley face, a yellow button with a smile and
two dots representing eyes, was invented by freelance artist Harvey Ball. This smiley may have inspired later emoticons as the most basic pictoral emoticon image is a small yellow smiley face.
The earliest known non-ASCII emoticons were used in the PLATO IV program as early as 1972, which allowed users to type multiple text characters “on top” of each other. Many combinations of ordinary text characters were known to produce face-like patterns, which were used as emoticons.
According to some, a man named Kevin MacKenzie sent the first smiley in an email on April 12th 1979 as a joke marker on a message board called MsgGrowp. The idea was to indicate that a messages intended tongue-in-cheek—the hyphen was a tongue, not a nose. Although it has two out of the three characters of the smiley, its intended interpretation was different and it do it appear to.

The original proposal was made by Fahlman on Carnegie Mellon University CS general board on September 19, 1982. Scott noticed a problem on the bulletin board that people would post a humorous comment, but others would not get the joke. This led to countless flames and meaningless discussions. He suggested the use of a smiley, or emoticon, as a way of expressing sarcasm of irony in emails to the humorously  challenged.
Scott suggested the use of : -) to show pleasure (or indicate a joke) and use of : -( to show displeasure. This usage caught on like wildfire all over the place, and before long you could see this usage everywhere.

The original message was retrieved.  However, from old backup tapes on September 10th, 2002, by Jeff Baird:

17-Sep-82 10:58 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Elevator:Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (^) in the subject field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke,

17-Sep-82 14:59 Joseph Cinder at CMU-lOA (*%)
I believe that the joke character should be % rather than

17-Sep-82 15:15 Anthony Stentzat CMU-780G (*%)
How about using ^ for good jokes and % for bad jokes?  We could even use *% for jokes that are so bad, they’re funny.  ^%&#$ Jokes! No, no, no!
Surely everyone will agree that is the funniest character on the keyboard.
It looks funny (like a jolly fat man in convulsions of laughter). It sounds funny (say it loud and fast three times), I just know if I could get my nose into the vacuum of the CRT it would even smell funny!
17-Sep-82 17:42 Leonard Harney at CMU-lOA {#}
(previously *) ,,,I think that the joke character should be the sequence {#} because it looks like two lips with teeth showing between them. This is the expected result if someone actually laughs their head off,,
19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman : -) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>. I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: : -) Read it sideways.  
Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use : -(
Yet despite this invention, Fahlman never made any money from it. He did not realise what a popular new language he had invented and he never thought to patent it or even to keep a record of the day himself.


At this moment some hundreds of thousands emoticons are
listed on several websites and there are new ones added all the time. The emoticon has become so popular that an Emoticon News Bureau has been created to monitor events in the world of the smiley.
More recently, reverse smileys are being eg (-: as a way to avoid being automatically converted to a picture. This sometimes happens in instant messaging programs or SMS messaging on mobile phones.
The graphical representations of smileys, including animated smileys, however are used a great deal now in email. Hogs and discussion forums.
Among the more obscure smileys are:
=):-) Uncle Sam
+-(:-) The Pope
Pablo Picasso
7:-) Ronald Reagan
and 2:-) Elvis

In March 1993 O’Reilly & Sanderson published a 93-page
emoticon dictionary by David Sanderson. This has become the bible of emoticon users but is rapidly becoming out of date.

More recently, reverse smileys are being eg (-: as a way to avoid being automatically converted to a picture. This sometimes happens in instant messaging programs or SMS messaging on mobile phones.
The graphical representations of smileys, including animated smileys, however are used a great deal now in email. Hogs and discussion forums.
Among the more obscure smileys are:
=):-) Uncle Sam
+-(:-) The Pope
Pablo Picasso
7:-) Ronald Reagan
and 2:-) Elvis

Pre-Internet

The practice of using shorthand to express emotion dates back to the 19th century with the invention of Morse code. According to the National Telegraphic Review and Operators Guide published in 1857, transmission of the number 73 meant “love and kisses.”In 1881, prototypes of emoticons were featured in an instructional article titled “Typographical Art,” published by humor magazine Puck.[6] Also in the 19th century, American journalist Ambrose Bierce wrote of a way to “improve punctuation” by using a \_/ to “represent a smiling mouth.”

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