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Computer archaelogists untar first emoticon

Mo NickelsPerson was signed in when posted
10:20 AM ET (US)
I'd like to retract my comment below about the possible earliest use of a smiley, or emoticon, in print.

Etymologist Barry Popik, who found the advertisement I mention below, was in China, Tibet and Mongolia (and is still there, I think), but I sent him a message asking him to confirm that it *was* a punctuation-based smiley and not a yellow-faced-Harvey-Ball-type smiley. In his original message, he used ":)" to desginate a smiley that appeared in the ad--but he now confirms (from the airport at Ulaan Baatar, no less) that it *was not* the emoticon. He was merely using the emoticon to render the Harvey Ball-type smiley, the yellow round one. Therefore, my comment was misinformed, and the 1953 advertisement should *not* be considered an early appearance of the now-familiar ":)".
Fred CoppersmithPerson was signed in when posted
04:59 PM ET (US)
"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." -- Vladamir Nabokov, "Strong Opinions" (1973)
Mo NickelsPerson was signed in when posted
02:09 PM ET (US)
It's the first *online* smiley, and under all kinds of debate. ESR's Jargon File cites a "rival claim by Kevin McKenzie, who seems to have proposed the smiley on the MsgGroup mailing list, April 12 1979."


Also, as I have posted elsewhere, the earliest (not first: you can never precisely say which was first) recorded smiley in print discovered so far was found by etymologist and word researcher Barry Popik who posted this message to the email list of the American Dialect Society. He discusses both the yellow smiley face which everyone knows, but this particular smiley is the familiar punctuation-based emoticon. (On a side note, he has uncovered some evidence that Harvey Ball *did not* invent the familiar yellow-faced smiley.)

http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind 0110B&L=ads-l&P=R4596

[begin quote]

This continues discussion of the pictograph known as the "smiley." It's authorship was credited to the late Harvey Ball (who drew it in the 1960s). "Smiley" is in an ad in the NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE, 10 March 1953, pg. 20, cols. 4-6. See for yourself. The ad is for the film LILI, with the "delightful" Leslie Caron. The "World Premiere Today" is at the Trans-Lux 52nd on Lexington. The film opened nationwide, and this ad possibly ran in many newspapers.


You'll laugh :)
You'll cry :(
You'll love (Heart-shaped face--ed.)

[end quote]
Brian DearPerson was signed in when posted
01:42 PM ET (US)
Emoticons were in use on computers WAY before 1982.

See http://www.platopeople.com/emoticons.html for examples from the early 1970s.

On PLATO emoticons rose to the level of art form in their richness and complexity, compared to ASCII emoticons.
MrBaliHaiPerson was signed in when posted
01:30 PM ET (US)
So now that we know who invented the emoticon, can we travel back in time and kill him before he posts it?
KnitWitPerson was signed in when posted
11:58 AM ET (US)
Holy unclosed < i > tag Batman!

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