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September 19, 2007

25th Anniversary of the Emoticon

While everyone else is celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I'm here to spread the magnificent news that today is the 25th anniversary of the emoticon. You know, this guy :-)

This entry is being posted to my blog at the precise moment that the emoticon was born 25 years ago. Often referred to as a smiley, the ASCII emoticon's "creation" is attributed to Scott Fahlman, who made this post to the Carnegie Mellon computer science discussion board:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)
From: Scott E Fahlman
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

And so the emoticon was born. Check out the Emoticon entry on Wikipedia for more fascinating facts on the emoticon.

In the early days of my career I felt that using emoticons in any work-related email was unequivocally unprofessional. However, over the past few years I've started using them extensively, especially in communicating with fellow staff. I find that it takes the edge off of emails that might be interpreted in a way other than what I intended. Digital communication is notorious for stripping the context and nuance out of conversation, and a smiley can give the reader at least a small indicator of your mood or the demeanor of your email.

What's your take?

Anyway, happy 25th birthday, ASCII emoticon! Now you can rent a car.

And just for talk like a pirate day, here's a pirate joke...

What's a pirate's favorite letter? Arrrr!
What's a pirate's golf score? Parrrr!
What's a pirate's favorite place to drink? A barrrrr!
What does a pirate drive? No! Not a carrrr, a boat!




Helen said...

So, on Sept. 19, be sure to smiley like a pirate.


Maddie Grant said...

As self-described class clown and major flirt, I use smileys a lot, so people know I am joking and not just deluded or a wee bit odd ; )