EMOTICONS - A CULTURAL PHENOMENON

Emoticons and emoji are a digital and cultural phenomenon that has transformed the way we communicate. Today, young and old alike pepper their text messages, instant messages and even business emails with fun symbols designed to express a mood, represent a common object or communicate a message. These flexible images transcend linguistic boundaries and allow for rapid fire communication in an increasingly visually orientated world.
 
Scroll down to find out more about emoticon meanings, learn the difference between ascii emoticons, smileys and emojidiscover the history of emoticons and find out how it all ties together with The Smiley Company.




 
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EMOTICON MEANINGS

EMOTICON DICTIONARY


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WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EMOTICON, AN EMOJI AND A SMILEY?


 

ASCII EMOTICONS

The word emoticon is a blend of the words emotion and icon. Ascii emoticons represent facial expressions such as a smile or a wink and are formed by combinations of keyboard characters.

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SMILEYS

Smileys are graphical emoticons created by the Smiley Company and used on clothes, household items and more. Free digital Smileys can be used to express emotions or represent ideas.

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EMOJIS

Emoji is the Japanese word for emoticon. It combines the Japanese words e (絵), which means picture, and moji (文字), which are written characters. Emoji are small digital images used to express ideas or emotions.

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SMILEY STICKER PACKS


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EMOTICONS & EMOJI HISTORY

1881 - Emoticons appear in Puck magazine

On the 30th of March 1881 emoticons were published in the American satirical magazine Puck. These four early emoticons are described as typographical art and represented "Studies in Passions and Emotions" showing melancholy, indifference, astonishment and joy.

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1948 - EMOTICONS DRAWING GUIDE PUBLISHES

In October of 1948 Paul Hadley published an article in Popular Mechanic magazine, which still exists today, explaining how to draw on a typewriter. Paul's article was titled 'Keyboard Art' and offered an artistic masterclass in how to draw your own emoticon using a standard typewriter.

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1962 - Emoticons FEATURE in Mad magazine

In 1962, American humour publication MAD Magazine published an article featuring typewriter-generated artwork "Typewri-toons” in their September edition. The article featured artwork generated by a typewriter which expressed emotions and was credited to a 'Royal Portable'.

1982 - Scott Fahlman creates first Ascii emoticon

On the 11th of September 1982 Scott Fahlman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, sent an email to his colleagues proposing the use of :-) and :-( to distinguish serious messages from jokes. This first Ascii emoticon used punctuation to represent a smiling face and a frowning face.

1996 - SMILEY APPEARS ON ALCATEL MOBILE PHONES

The Smiley Company licensed the Smiley to mobile phone giant Alcatel allowing them to launch the first mobile cellular phone with a pixel Smiley logo appearing on the screen. This is the first time Smiley is licensed to appear on a mobile phone and marks the beginning of a cultural shift that would change the way we communicate forever.

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1997 - Nicolas Loufrani creates first graphical emoticons

In 1997, Nicolas Loufrani CEO of The Smiley Company creates the first 3D Smiley and starts to develop icons based on Smiley to replace the popular 'text emoticons' made solely of punctuation marks. The first Smileys represented a variety of emotions, ages, genders, characters objects and nations. Since 1997, Smiley have maintained a classic heritage look which has been maintained through careful licensee partner selection.

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1999 - THE SMILEY COMPANY LAUNCHES 3D SMILEYS

The Smiley Company launches 949 3D Smileys in categories such as emotions, weather, nations, flags, parodies and sports. These Smiley emoticons are registered with the US copyright office and offered endless ways to express emotions, meanings and more in a creative and fun way.

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1999 - Emoji created for mobile internet

In 1999, Shigetaka Kurita was working on i-mode, the first mobile internet platform for NTT Docomo in Japan. In these early days of mobile internet phone screens were small and space for composing messages was limited. Kurita realised that images could convey information using less space than Japanese characters and so he created the first prototypes 'emoji' which is a Japanese word for emoticons. These 176 pixel icons had no resemblance to Smiley or modern emoji.

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2001 - Smiley Company publishes THE OFFICIAL SMILEY DICTIONARY

In 2001, The Smiley Company announces “The birth of a universal language” and makes its directory of Smileys available for download on mobile phones and computers. The website contains a directory of 393 ASCII emoticons and their Smiley equivalent. The site includes a useful search function and is also divided into categories such as animals, colours, countries, celebrations, flags, food, fun, occupations, celebrities, planets and moods.

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2002 - THE OFFICIAL SMILEY DICTIONARY AVAILABLE IN PRINT

In 2002, The Official Smiley Dictionary, which had previously been available digitally, is published for the first time in book format by Marabout Press, part of the internationally renowned Hachette Book Group. In this fun French dictionary 300 Smileys are classified into the following categories: expressions, weather, celebrations, fun smileys, nations, careers, celebrities, sports and animals. The book also provided readers with a special code to download different smileys on their phone.

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2003 - THE OFFICIAL SMILEY DICTIONARY BECOMES SMILEYWORLD

In 2003, The Smiley Company renames and rebrands its Smiley emoticons dictionary as SmileyWorld. The dictionary contains 887 Smiley emoticons, the largest selection of still and animated Smileys to use in the digital world. The refreshed dictionary includes new categories such as celebration, celebrities, clothes, fancy, flags, flowers, food, in action, instruments, mood expressions, mood hands, nations, nature, numbers, objects, occupations, religion, science, signs, sports, transportation, weather and zodiac.

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2004 - POCKET-SIZED SMILEY COMPENDIUM PUBLISHED

In 2004, a colourful English language compendium book of Smileys was published in the US by Running Press a subsidary of the Hachette Book Group. This book offered a pocket-sized guide to more than 120 official, zany variations of the Smiley face reflecting our moods, thoughts and even aspects of our culture. The book also included 18 fun stickers which were an instant hit with adults and kids alike!

2007 - APPLE starts supporting emoji

In 2007 Apple launched their first iPhone, which included emoji icons available only in Japan, with SoftBank, Apple’s exclusive launch partner. The first iPhone in Japan had a selection of Emoji, including many icons freely inspired by Smiley. These emoji were an instance success in a culture familiar with pictorial presentations. Outside of Japan these ‘hidden’ iPhone emoji were soon discovered and ‘unlocked’ by some enterprising individuals in the US and elsewhere.

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2010 - Unicode Consortium standardises Emoji

In October 2010, the Unicode Consortium, a not-for-profit organisation in charge of standardising digital text, included 722 emoji in their text-rendering rulebook for developers. The Consortium, originally envisioned by engineers at Apple and Xerox, manages the selection and publication of all new emoji through their Unicode Emoji Subcommittee. Unicode ensures that the same meaning emoji are displayed on different types of devices, but the way they are drawn differs depending on the platform.

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2014 - Emoticons and Emoji growth ENTER THE EVERYDAY

By 2014, billions of digital icons were being sent daily across a variety of mobile devices and social media platforms. Emoticons soon become the fastest growing and most widely used language on earth and people start referring to them using their Japanese translation: emoji. The universal language envisioned by The Smiley Company is finally a reality.