Emoticons turn thirty, first appeared in an e-mail thirty years ago

If I were to ask you how emoticons came to be, what would you say? Would you be able to tell me that emoticons came into being on September 19, 1982 when Professor Scott Fahlman of Carnegie Mellon University sent an e-mail suggesting the use of a “sideways” smile? Don’t worry, I didn’t know about it either until recently.

As I’m sure we have all experienced, it is very hard to communicate emotions over the Internet. Fahlman understood this thirty years ago and wanted some way to differentiate between sarcastic/humorous e-mails and serious e-mails. So he sent an e-mail proposing the use of what has now come to be known as the smiley and sad-y emotion…

I propose 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 :-(

…and the rest, as they say, is history. Happy birthday emoticons!

[via The Telegraph, image via Wikicommons]

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