Emoji’s, Text faces, Emoticons, whatever term you use, we all know what they are, hell there’s even an emoji movie being created right now, but have you ever wondered, what are their origins, who came up with them, and why?
The first idea for faces that could be used in electronic messages came about in the late 1990s where Japanese mobile phone operators NTT DoCoMo, au and Vodaphone (Japan) used them to depict emotions, common objects, animals and even types of weather. The first of these companies to integrate emoji into the mobile phones was Shigetaka Kurita who took inspiration from weather forecasts that used symbols to show weather and stock symbols to depict different emotions.
After being picked up by Apple later on in the early 2000s, emoji were used in apples iPhone, where other mobile phone companies and competitors to Apple decided to create their own variations of them.
The term we use (originally meaning “pictograph”) is called “Emoji” because it comes from the Japanese word for picture, “e” and the Japanese word for character, “moji”. Another odd fact to note is that the relation of the word “emotion” and “emoticon” is no more than a coincidence, while many believe there is a relation, the name was not created with the English word for “emotion” in mind.
By 1997, Nicolas Loufrani saw the large impact the symbols and icons had on mobile phones and messaging alike, so he decided to experiment with animated smiley faces that could be inserted through the use of a keyboard command alike early emoticons that could be inserted by using:
(( : + ) = J or : + ( + L ))
He later finished making a set of 172 emoji’s that were sorted into categories, these being; Classics, Moods, Expressions, Flags, Celebrations, Fun, Sports, Weather, Animals, Food, Nations, Occupations, Planets, Zodiac, and Babies. They were later registered in late 1997 at the US copyright office.
It wasn’t until 2000 where the option to download Emoji’s that belonged to the original set of 172 could be downloaded by the public.
Since then, Emoji’s are a large part of social media and the internet alike, in 2015, this was shown as Oxford dictionaries word of the year turn out to be none other than “Emoji”.