Tech Time Warp: Emoticons turn 34

Posted by Lauren Beliveau on Sep 23, 2016 11:34:00 AM

25022732144_128059e992_z.jpgThe hardest thing to convey over email or text is emotion, so a message’s real meaning often gets lost or misinterpreted. That’s why in 1982 computer scientist Scott Fahlman proposed a new form of communication—the emoticon. This Tech Time Warp goes back to Sept. 19, 1982, for a look at the birth of the emoticon.

It all dates back to a message board at Carnegie Mellon University where a few computer scientists were having a hard time determining what was a joke and what wasn’t. Forbes recently found the original text from Scott Fahlman, which read: “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   :-(.” Emoticons caught on, and since then people have create many more variations.

Emoticons are not emoji

While emoticons and the more modern emoji convey the same message, they shouldn’t be confused. The emoticon is based off any face that can be made simply with the letters and characters on a keyboard, whereas emoji, which were introduced in Japan in the 1990s, are preset smiley faces and other images.

The New York Times explained the difference this way: “But unlike emoticons, emoji don’t require tilting your head sideways to make sense of the image. They are a kind of pictorial alphabet stored on a phone that can be displayed in place of the regular keyboard, making it easy to tap out a visual message.”

The emoji keyboard is endlessly changing and with the new IOS 10 update, some people are thinking that they have become too lifelike, ruining the fun.

All in all, we thank Scott Fahlman for paving the way into the digital era with emoticons which have helped us articulate our points more clearly. Happy birthday :)!

Intronis MSP Solutions State of the Industry SurveyPhoto Credit: Wicker Paradise via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons 2.0

Topics: Tech Time Warp

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