Wednesday, 19 September 2018


Though there are quite a few antecedents and parallel traditions, on this day in 1982 Carnegie-Mellon computer scientist Scott Fahlman first proposed the use of the emoticons :-) and :-( to mark tone in electronic communications, posting his recommendation to the university’s bulletin board.

Quite a separate species from emoji—another convention popularised by derived from Japanese culture called kaomoji (้ก”ๆ–‡ๅญ—, literally a “face character,” something whose meaning becomes clear when one tilts one’s head), the first use of an emoticon in Western media (though some argue that it is a typographical error) is a 1862 transcript of a speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln in the New York Times, “Fellow citizens: I believe there is no precedent for my appearing before you on this occasion, [applause] but it is also true that there is no precedent for your being here yourselves, (applause and laughter ;)” Whether or not this was intentional, by the next appearance of emoticons in print in an 1881 edition of Puck magazine—suggesting that the type-setting department could do fine on its own and manage without cartoonists.