The History Of Emojis

17th July 2017

/// Snake, snake, laughing face…

We use emojis every day. Whether it’s to call your mate an absolute mug for screenshotting your Snapchat using a quick send of the snake or to respond to something genuinely funny with the simple and timeless classic that the Oxford dictionary calls ‘tears of joy’. Emojis are a key cog in the cold social media machine that reduces complex human emotions down to one character long symbols. The universal language is everywhere, but where did they come from?

Emojis are a key cog in the cold social media machine that reduces complex human emotions down to one character-long symbols. The universal language is everywhere, but where did they come from?

For thousands of years of human history, we’ve been searching for a truly visual language, one that can mimic voice more than text could starting centuries ago with hieroglyphics. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin used the work of a scientist who picturised human emotions and tried to make a language for it but it did not catch on. Only since around 2010 when Apple incorporated emojis into iPhone software has a language of this kind caught on.

Wingdings, that weird font on Microsoft word, was the precursor to the emoji. This was a language created to allow typists to type symbols for aesthetic or general emotions quickly. When the first computers came out the technology was kept out. A story was run in 1992 showing that typing NYC in this font made skull, star of David and thumbs up. And, of course, this became a big staple in the weird conspiracy community. It was changed to eye, heart, city after. Phew.

Shigetaka Kurita, who worked for a telephone company in Japan, developed emojis inspired by Japanese visual imagery and wingdings. Emoji coming from the Japanese for “picture”, e, and “character”, moji. Due to the brevity of text messages often the tone of a message could be lost, this was a common complaint the company got and Kurita effectively solved it. His personal fave emoji to use is the heart, how cute. In 1999 Kurita put together a language of 172, 12 pixel by 12 pixel symbols that was the first emoji language.

By 2007, the year of iPhone release, emojis were widespread across Japan and in order to compete Apple made their own to sell the iPhone in Japan. In 2011 international support was included. Google added them in 2013, and the rest is history.

source: https://thetab.com/uk/leeds/2017/02/25/brief-history-emojis-came-30208


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