The history of emojis and emoticons

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

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 to emojis. They are built in to 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! They also add a little extra into your content marketing. There are over 1800 emojis that are easily and universally understandable. They are inclusive and diverse, and feature different genders, skin tones and objects.

The Unicode Consortium is the 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 feature even more inclusive icons and objects. Check out the video below.

2021 was set to see the version 14.0 release. This was however interrupted by COVID-19. The Unicode Consortium has however confirmed that there will be a mini-release, version 13.1, of about 200 new emojis. The 2021 release will feature a heart on fire, mending heart, more skin tones of the couple with heart emojis and much more.

Samples of version 13.1 emoji release from

Related topics:


  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Twitter