Magazine article Information Today

Happy Birthday to You, :-)

Magazine article Information Today

Happy Birthday to You, :-)

Article excerpt

Type one colon, then a hyphen, and finish it off with one parenthesis at the end. The result? You'll probably recognize this trio of punctuation marks as one of the best-known emoticons around. In fact, the Smiley face emoticon celebrated its 25th birthday on Sept. 19. And we can thank Scott E. Fahlman, a Carnegie Mellon University computer science research professor, for his 1982 innovation.

Although the Smiley emoticon was born on the Pittsburgh campus, the icon spread to universities and businesses around the world as the Internet grew. Fahlman said he created the symbol in response to a funny message about an elevator in the building that was supposedly "contaminated." Someone else was concerned that the message might not be taken in the same humorous vein it was intended and requested ways to refer to a comment that shouldn't be taken seriously.

"I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)," wrote Fahlman. "Read it sideways." The email was sent at 11:44 a.m., Sept. 19, 1982.

This year, in honor of the Smiley reaching its quarter-century milestone, Fahlman and his colleagues in the computer science department have launched the annual Smiley Award for "innovation in technology-assisted, human-to-human communication. …

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