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The Victorian Emoticon

Wired reports that on this day in 1982, the emoticon was invented:

At precisely 11:44 a.m., Scott Fahlman posts the following electronic message to a computer-science department bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)
From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use:


But the article also delves into historical precedent for using typography to convey emotions, and here’s where the letterpress / antique typography angle comes in:

In 1881, the American satirical magazine Puck published what we would now call emoticons, using hand-set type. No less a wordsmith than Ambrose Bierce suggested using what he called a “snigger point” — \__/ — to convey jocularity or irony.

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