Smiley celebrates 25th birthday
Big * and 25x@>--->--- for :-)
The "digital smiley" - a cunning series of keystrokes which gave rise to the ubiquitous emoticon - is today celebrating its 25th birthday.
That's according to Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman, who says that at 11:44 am on 19 September 1982, during an electronic bulletin board discussion about "the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly", he made the following fateful suggestion: "I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-). Read it sideways."
Fahlman explained: "I've never seen any hard evidence that the :-) sequence was in use before my original post, and I've never run into anyone who actually claims to have invented it before I did. But it's always possible that someone else had the same idea — it's a simple and obvious idea, after all."
He added in a university statement: "It has been fascinating to watch this phenomenon grow from a little message I tossed off in 10 minutes to something that has spread all around the world. I sometimes wonder how many millions of people have typed these characters, and how many have turned their heads to one side to view a smiley, in the 25 years since this all started." ®
Yes, the smiley is much older than computers, I've seen pages of what is essentially ASCII art but created with a typewriter (including cunning use of the backspace and halfspace to put multiple characters in the same area). I'm pretty sure it included smileys as we know them.
They won't known as smileys, of course - but am I right in thinking that 'smiley' is a trademarked name for the trademarked yellow smiley face? Which is why commercial chat applications offer 'emoticons' and other such pseudonyms.
An elderly IT pedant protests...
Quote: "Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman... at 11:44 am on 19 September 1982...made the fateful suggestion... (of a) character sequence for joke markers."
He might have sent the claimed email at that precise time. But he wasn't the first with the electronic smiley (let alone the mechanical typist's smiley).
In April 1979 - over three years earlier - a guy named MacKenzie posted an email to MsgGroup (the unofficial community on ARPAnet which was instrumental in formulating email standards and protocols and whose most prominent member was Dave Crocker) posted a suggestion that by playing with punctuation in email one could more easily convey subtleties such as sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek content.
MacKenzie proposed using a hyphen and parenthesis thus -) He also freely acknowledged that he'd cribbed the idea from an article in Reader's Digest.
Of course, quite a few of the MsgGroup's members were at Carnegie-Mellon. So it is, perhaps, surprising that Scott Fahlman seems to have missed MacKenzie's contribution and the minor flame war it precipitated.
I vaguely remember to seeing quoted a passing reference to 'extended punctuation sets' in a RFC. Buggered if I can remember where or when - anyone who can be arsed could search it out here:
And lest younger Vultures think I am an old fart, I can still toss off in under ten minutes ;)
Best geek headstone...
I saw was plain granite with "</life>" written on it