The history of the smiley face emoji

The history of the smiley face emoji


Emojis are now a staple of our digital communication. From expressing emotions to representing concepts and objects, these pictograms have become an essential part of our online vocabulary. One of the most iconic and widely used emojis is the smiley face. Its cheerful and upbeat expression has made it a staple in digital conversations, but have you ever wondered about its origin and history?

The Origins of the Smiley Face

The smiley face emoji has its roots in the 1960s when commercial artist Harvey Ball was hired by an insurance company to create a campaign to improve morale among its employees. Ball came up with a simple yellow circle with two black dots and a curved line, which became known as the "smiley face." The design was meant to be easy to draw, recognize and associate with happiness. The smiley face became a popular cultural icon, appearing on buttons, stickers, t-shirts, and other merchandise. However, its use as an emoji didn’t happen until much later.

The First Emoji Keyboard

The first emoji keyboard was created in Japan in the late 1990s by Shigetaka Kurita, a developer working for the mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo. The keyboard was meant to help users express emotions and ideas in a more visual way than traditional text-based messages. The smiley face was included as one of the first emojis on the keyboard, and its popularity quickly spread.

The Evolution of the Smiley Face Emoji

As technology has evolved, so has the smiley face emoji. It has been updated with different expressions, skin tones, and gender variations to reflect the diverse users that rely on it. The smiley face has also been adapted to different platforms, with each platform having its own unique design.

The Significance of the Smiley Face Emoji

The smiley face emoji has come to represent more than just happiness. It has become a symbol of positivity, friendliness, and optimism. It is used to express a range of emotions, from excitement to sarcasm, and it is a staple in digital communication across the globe.


The smiley face emoji has come a long way since its creation in the 1960s. From its humble beginnings as a simple yellow circle with two black dots and a curved line, it has evolved into a versatile and essential tool for digital communication. The smiley face emoji continues to bring joy and positivity to millions of people every day and will likely remain an important part of our digital vocabulary for years to come.


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