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The history of emojis and emoticons

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Emojis are a definite testament to that. Emojis have gained a lot of popularity over the years and are a major part of today's communication. They save us time, convey our written message with more emphasis, or just convey the sentiment behind messages.

Emojis started as emoticons, a form of typographic art made with punctuation. Scott Fahlam, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, was actually credited with originating the first smiley in 1982. He shared, on a computer science board, that :-) should be used to denote jokes and :-( to denote serious (not jokes).

Emoticons have since seen a lot of growth and variations.

=) , (^_^) , [o_0] , ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . , <( ^.^ )> , ^오^

Fast forward to today, emoticons have evolved into emojis. They are built into most message boards across different devices and even sold as merchandise. There was even a self-titled emoji movie released in 2017.

Emojis make texting fun and add a little extra to your content marketing.

There are over 1800 emojis that are easily and universally understandable. They are inclusive, diverse, and feature different genders, skin tones and objects.

The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit organisation that is involved in standardising and releasing new emojis. 2020 saw the release of 117 new emojis - version 13.0. The new emojis featured more inclusive icons and objects.

2021 was set to see the version 14.0 release. This was however interrupted by COVID-19. The Unicode Consortium, however, had a mini-release, version 13.1, of about 200 new emojis which featured a heart on fire, a mending heart, and more skin tones of the couple with heart emojis among others.

On September 14th 2021, version 14.0 was released. It featured a total of 838 new characters. 87 of these were new emojis and 75, new skin tones. The release included mixed skin tones for the handshake 🤝 , a saluting face, a mirrored disco ball, a biting lip, and a few more.

2021 Emojis released

Support for Emoji 14.0 is available on iOS 15.4, Google's Android 12L, Twitter and Facebook.

The rest of the platforms are expected to follow suit throughout the year 2022.

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