How did we survive when we didn't have emojis to fall back on to express our emotions?


Can you believe the idea of emojis came about back in the late 1800s?  Before emojis, there were emoticons, or facial expressions made with punctuation marks.  The first emoticons appeared in an issue of Puck magazine in 1881. The magazine published four “faces”—conveying joy, melancholy, indifference, and astonishment—and called them “typographical art.”  In online times they were first used as a way of communicating emotions in 1982.  How? Well, when it became difficult for people to tell the difference between jokes and serious posts on a Carnegie Mellon University digital message board, a faculty member named Scott Fahlman came up with a solution: add the symbol :) to denote humorous posts, and add the symbol :( to denote serious ones.  In his announcement about this proposal, he even specified that readers should “read it sideways.” 


Since that time, there has been an explosion in online emoticons, making texting (and responding on social media) faster, more fun and more able to convey the emotions and feelings of the texter.  This super fast growth was spurred on by Shigetaka Kurita, an engineer at the Japanese phone company NTT Docomo, in 1998. He was working on a way for customers to communicate through icons, resulting in a set of 176 icons he called emoji. The name combines two Japanese words: “e” (picture) and “moji” (character). Kurita says that he drew inspiration for his emojis from Chinese characters and international signs for bathrooms. 


Today, more than 1,800 emojis exist.  Luckily we no longer have to turn our heads sideways or remember which keyboard strokes to use to create a 😊☹or