Tag Archives: emoticons


Emoticon-like characters in The Humboldt Union, Kansas, May 14, 1881. via Yesterday’s Print.

More 1800s emoticons here,

The Japanese emoticon, (^_^), was published by Yasushi Wakabayashi in June 1986 on ASCIInet. The user binbou was using the (‾_‾) emoticon around the same time. Japanese emoticons are also called kaomoji. More info here and here.

:-) and :-( were first made on a computer by Scott E. Fahlman in 1982. Some say they date back as long as 1862 or 1648. Also see the PLATO emoticons/emojis from the 1970s, and the Polish vertical emoticons from 1881.

More emoticon-posts here.

Update, June 2024: There is a text credited to Takeshi Kitano, 1970, that includes emoticons, but it was apparently a joke from 2009.

Emoticons from Kurjer Warszawski (5 March 1881) that depict joy, melancholy, indifference and astonishment just like these emoticons did a few weeks later.

via Wikipedia

Typographic faces in The Strand magazine, England, March 1909. from yesterdaysprint

The bottom ones are very similar to these emoticons from 1881.

Emoticons from 1893, published in the German Kreisblatt für den Kreis Malmedy. h/t Gleb Albert.

CIA:s list of kaomojis (aka dongers, emoticons, etc) or “Japanese style Faces” as they call it.

From Wikileaks via AtticusBones


St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri, January 21, 1910


Dicky ASCII emoticons via Laura Brown.

Scott E Fahlman suggests a use of :) and :( in September, 1982. This happened on a bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA. It caught on pretty fast, and in November there were already several variations.

There are many earlier examples of smilies, but this is likely what popularized emoticons as we know them today.

source + more