An email came in the other day from the ninemsn people about emoticonworld.com.au and I kinda brushed it off. Yeah, yeah... emoticons. 10th anniversary of Windows Live... yada, yada. But then last night's item about emo the meatspace emoticon surfaced and I thought to myself: "Self, a history lesson is in order".
The emoticon used to be a much humbler character(s) than the cheesy, animated jobs that now populate too many emails and forum threads. They used to be, well, just useful, not annoying. And for a time, it was good. Then, when a fatter intertubes came along, the bandwidth-munching animated icon began to proliferate. Like rabbits. Calicivirus, anyone?
So, a little history is in order. Why? Perspective. And because those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. ;) Oops. sorry.
The first person documented to have used the smiley and sad faces icons was Professor Scott E. Fahlman in 1982. And here's the message:
19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman
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
However, he wasn't the first to come up with a character-based shorthand. Teletype machine operators, as early as 1973, and probably long before that date, used "emoticons" to express themselves.
Feel the need to know more? Wikipedia has the full lesson.