Yes, the legendary smiley face emoticon just turned 30. The sign originally created to signify not serious, has turned into a symbol of happiness. Never in the history of human communication has a simple combination of three symbols defined an emotion as well as the smiley.
The emoticon, an integral part of live chat and SMS lingo has quickly crept into social communications- Blogs, Twitter, Facebook; you name it and it’s there. Come to think of it, the emoticon plays a more profound part in our communication. Often in conversations, we draw a blank with acknowledgments, not knowing if we have to use words such as cool, alright or okay. In all these circumstances a simple smiley often suffices.
For such an awesome discovery, there’s got to be a backstory. Let’s wind our clocks back three decades to trace its roots.
Back in the days of BASIC (yeah, that’s how far back) and the early days of the Internet; digital billboards were still in vogue. Students and professors at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were finding it difficult to differentiate between serious posts and things said in jest on the boards, leading to a lot of confusion.
That is when, out of the blue; the Eureka moment ensued for one geeky scientist, Mr. Scott Fahlman.
Over the years, the symbol has given birth to many new varieties of emoticons, not necessarily to the liking of Mr.Fahlman, who thinks “they’re ugly”. He continues to serve at CMU. The university on its part has set up a special page to celebrate the occasion. If you’d like the entire conversation that led to the invention, click here.
And smiley, here’s to a lot more years ahead and we sincerely hope you avert a midlife crisis. Just continue to do what you do best – SMILE