An emoji is a picogram, logogram, idogram or a smiley embedded in an e-message or in the web page. The main function of emoji is to convey feelings that are usually missing in written words.Some of the most important emoji come in different categories, such as facial expressions, everyday items, localities and weather types, and animal species. They are very similar to emoticons, but emojis are images rather than Typtographic approximations; the term “emoji” proper refers to such images, which can be represented as cipher symbols, but it is also occasionally applied to messaging stickers. The word emoji comes from the Japanese e (絵, “image”) + moji (文字, “character”); the similarities with the German terms Emotion and Emoticon are purely coincidental.
The emoji, which appeared on Japanese cell phones in 1997, became increasingly popular in the 2010s since being added to numerous mobile operating systems.
Today, we use emojis not just to express our feelings in a private chat, but also to better reach customers in business. But how did emojis actually evolve? We take a look at their history.
In many chats and forms of marketing, nothing works without emojis anymore. They let us express how we feel in a creative way. Plus, they’re a lot of fun to use.
But how did the colorful characters actually evolve? After all, the large number of different symbols available to us on our smartphones today hasn’t been around for that many years.
One of the UK’s leading app developers, the App Institute, has therefore recorded how they evolved in an illustrated timeline.
The history of emojis: How it all began
According to this, everything happened to start in 1862, when the New York Times became the first daily newspaper to accidentally use a smiling typographic character. They printed the symbol on a speech by Abraham Lincoln, the US president at the time.
The next first time someone used a typographic symbol on purpose was not until about 20 years later. Puck, a U.S. satirical newspaper, used a few more typographical symbols for feelings of happiness, melancholy, indifference and amazement in its March 30, 1881 issue.
100 years or so later: Shigetaka Kurita invents emojis
So this is what the beginnings of typographic symbols looked like. More than a hundred years later, however, the real story of emojis begins. Shigetaka Kurita, who was an employee of a large Japanese mobile phone manufacturer in 1998, designed the first monochrome picture letters.
He took his inspiration from the colorful manga scene and designed a whole set of 176 picture letters. These included not only emojis for human emotions, but also various objects such as an umbrella.
Kurita’s emojis, however, are only obtainable in Japan, Korea and the like for the first time. It takes more than a decade for them to invade the whole world.
Out into the wide world
In October 2010, the time had finally come: the sixth version of Unicode, the standard for a digital encoding, came with hundreds of emojis. iPhones from Apple and smartphones from Google also supported the symbols, as did platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
With each new Unicode came sometimes more, sometimes fewer new emojis. Then in 2015, Unicode 8.0 also brought symbols with five different skin colors.
From now on, people of different origins could identify more intensively with the little emojis and give their messages a more personal style.
Since then, the colorful characters have continued to change and evolve in detail, especially in personal and controversial matters. For example, the original real gun emoji has become one for a water spray gun.
And in November 2016, signs for people of faith wearing a headscarf also appeared.
Emoji traffic on Facebook, revolution by Apple.
In the past five years, of course, digitization has again developed much more strongly and quickly than before. This has also influenced the popularity of emojis.
On World Emoji Day, July 17, 2017, Facebook made it public that we use around 60 million of them every day on the platform. In Messenger, it was even much more, with five billion.
In November of the selfsame year, Apple caused another revolution: the new iOS 11 operated system gave us animated emojis – the so-called Animojis. With the help of the then new facial recognition, we could now send animated messages ourselves.
Incidentally, Apple has continued in terms of the development even after that. On the tenth anniversary of Apple emojis in 2018, the company released a whopping total of 158 new symbols.
And with the new Unicode 12.0, another 59 new characters were added in March 2019. Among them were gender-neutral pairs and many cultural characters.
And where do we stand today?
In the meantime, 2020 has changed a lot, of course. The Corona crisis has spawned some fitting emojis. For example, there are now faces with a mouth-nose mask.
It almost seems like there is now a right symbol for almost every possible situation – and if not, it will just be built.
This will certainly not be changing in the future – on the contrary. After all, emojis give us the opportunity to show emotions in the digital space as well. And these are elementarily important for our communication – be it private or professional.
Emoji Comunication Problems
World Day of Smiles is celebrated on October 4. It goes back to the inventor of the smiley sign, the first smiley. And there are more and more of them all the time. There are some 3,000 of them, with another 230 added recently, including a yawning smiley, a garlic bulb, wheelchairs and prostheses.
However, this expansion of Symbols could lead to the original purpose of emojis, to reduce ambiguity and eliminate misunderstandings, being reversed, explained business psychologist Wera Aretz on Deutschlandfunk Kultur. The professor of business psychology at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Cologne has already conducted several studies on emoji use.
The interpretation and indeed the semantic meaning of emojis differ greatly in some cases. For example, he said, there is said to be little room for interpretation in the case of a teary face; it is clear what is meant by it. “But there are also many emojis that are very distant from human facial expressions.” Aretz cited such examples as a winking emoji or an emoji with a mouth that has jagged edges. “That doesn’t exist in reality, after all, and that’s also where you see that interpretations and semantic attributions differ greatly.” It could then be that the use of emojis causes misunderstandings, he said.
Increasingly individual emojis
According to Aretz, only a very small proportion of the wide variety of emojis is actually used: “Most users use an average of seven them. And those are mostly symbols bearing positive connotations, at least in private Whatsapp messages, Aretz’s studies showed. “We find in the study that actually emojis are frequently used that express cordiality, whether it’s the kissing mouth, whether it’s the Heart, whether it’s a friendly emoji.” Emojis with more negative connotations would be sent less frequently.
The variety of emoji will continue to increase, Aretz says. Efforts are being made to bring emojis closer and closer to the realities of people’s lives – and thus to pick up on unique national to local characteristics, he adds. “There are regional emojis that are planned by individual cities, there are carnival emojis.” He added that this is also evident in so-called memojis, which allow people to create their own emoji.
On the question of the effects of emoji use on language, Aretz said that ultimately, “The dose makes the poison.” If used moderately, he said, emojis can augment language, make communication warmer and more heartfelt, and reduce misunderstandings. But if too much use is made of them, the opposite effect can occur.
Before the emoji, there was the emoticon, a term first used by computer scientist Scott Fahlman in 1982. The emoticon was used to replace text-based symbols such as 🙂 and :-(. Emoticons were first used in the 1990s. In 1995, Alcatel launched the BC 600 phone. The BC 600 was the first phone manufactured by Alcatel in France. Alcatel is a subsidiary of the French phone manufacturer Alcatel-Nexus. The Alcatel BC 600 is a two year old phone. For example, U+1F483 💃 DANCER is female by Apple and SoftBank standards, but male or gender-neutral by other standards.
The Universal Coded Character Set (Unicode), managed by the Unicode Consortium and ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 2, has been the international standard for text representation since 1993. The theory of linguistic substitution can be traced back to the 1960s, when Russian writer and professor Vladimir Nabokov said in an interview with the New York Times, “I often think there should be a special typographic character for a smile.” In 1999, Shigetaka Kurita developed 176 emoji as part of NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode. The emoji were used on the company’s mobile platform. Kurita’s work was used for i-mode, which was used on NTT’s mobile platform in Japan.
It didn’t become a standard concept until the 1990s, when Japanese, American and European companies began experimenting with modified versions of Fahlman’s idea. The idea was developed in the 1970s and 1980s by a scientific group at the University of California at Los Angeles. The 12-by-12 pixel black-and-white designs displayed numbers, sports, the time, the phases of the moon and the weather.
It was the 50th anniversary of the first Beatles album, Life of Pablo, released on September 25, 1969. In 1972, the concept was further developed into PLATO IV, the first e-learning system, by Bruce Parello, a student at the University of Illinois. Mary Kalantzis and Bill Cope explained that this concept was also used to create e-books in the 1970s.
The hashtag #EggplantFridays became increasingly popular on Instagram to tag pictures with clothed or unclothed penises. As of December 2014, the hashtag was used to tag images of exposed or clothed penises with the hashtag #eggplantfridays.