Opinion: Computer smiley

POSTED: 09/19/12 1:43 PM

The computer smiley, the first ever so-called emoticon celebrated its thirtieth anniversary yesterday. Computer scientist Scott Fahlmann used the symbol 🙂 in 1982 for the first time in an electronic message to his students at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg.
After a student prank about an infections had caused some commotion at the university there was debate about the limits to humor within the institution. Fahlmann suggested a symbol to indicate which messages were not meant completely serious. He arrived at :-). Read it sideways, he noted for good measure. For topics that were not meant to be funny Fahlmann came up with :-(.
In the course of the years several people have claimed 🙂 as their creation. They said that they had come up with the idea already before 1982, but so far there is no proof for these claims. Fahlmanns message was found at the beginning of this century by a Microsoft employee in old back-ups of the university. Fahlmann sent his message on September 19, 1982, at 11.44 a.m.
Fahlmann, who is 64 now, dislikes the multicolored and readymade emoticons that are often used these days. “I find them ugly and they ruin the challenge to express emotions in a smart way with ordinary keyboard signs,” he says.

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