SeanPAune

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September 19 2007

Happy Birthday, Smiley!

Happy Birthday, Smiley!Wow, so, they’ve actually tracked down the actual birthday of “:-)” and “:-(“. To the left, you can see an actual copy of the first email to use it.

It was first used on September 19th, 1982 by Scott Fahlman on the Carnegie Mellon computer system as a way to let people know when sarcasm was being used. The whole story has been documented here.

Love them, or hate them, emoticons will always be with us on the Internet it seems. Some people feel that if you write well enough that you shouldn’t need them, but from the above mentioned site:

Let me close with a quote from an interview with Vladimir Nabokov, author of Lolita and other modern classics (thanks to Eli Brandt for calling this to my attention):

Q: How do you rank yourself among writers (living) and of the immediate past?

Nabokov: I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile – some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question.

Considering Nakokov is one of my favorite authors, I’m not going to argue with him. :-)



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  • Snopes has found out that the emoticon dates at least back to the 60’s:

    http://www.snopes.com/computer/internet/smiley.asp

    The reference is to a vertical emoticon, specifically -) meaning “tongue in cheek.”

    Side note: Japanese prefer vertical emoticons for some reason, such a (^v^).

  • Hmm, I went and read it. I would say “yes” and “no”. Yes, something pre-dated it (not surprised), but the first online usage, and accompanying head-tilt style, seems to originate from that email.