Everybody uses them in messenger programs, chatrooms or e-mail. But
a long time the emoticon (or smiley)
was invented. Many different sources claim to know who thought about
using reglular keyboard-characters to express emotion. On this page
you find some of these claims put together. This gives you an overview
about the timeperiod the emoticon started its life.
Scott E. Fahlman claims to be the inventor of the sideways
“smiley face”. He also tells about this on his website.
By the early 1980's there were problems to know if someone who posted
a message on the online bulletin boards made a sarcastic remark, tried
to me funny or made a serious remark. As a result of this signs were
needed. So the idea for an emoticon was born.
After recovering old tapes Scott Fahlman can show that the first emoticon
was used on 19th September 1982. The original Bullitin board thread
can be found here.
Others claim that the first emoticon possibly appeared in 1979, first
used by someone named Kevin Mackenzie. He is believed to have first
used the -) symbol.
When you search the internet for earlier use of the emoticon you even
end up to 1972 for the introduction of the original Smiley Face. However
nobody actually claims to be the inventor at that time.
At this moment some hundreds / thousends emoticons are listed on several
websites. Also this sites contains many. However new ones are thought
of daily and it is impossible to keep up with all the new ones.