Today marks the 27th anniversary of the first usage of an emoticon,which is a simple smiley face first used by a Carnegie Mellon professor on an old school bulletin board system. It turns out that the emoticon was not just an afterthought, but a much discussed idea addressing a problem early users of the system were having in separating sarcastic comments from serious ones. Professor Scott Fahlman proposed a smiley face to indicate joking and an upside down one to indicate unhappiness in a thread (captured below).
The original message with the first smiley had been lost for years, but a rather intensive research effort lead to its recovery. Fahlman details the invention and the “dig” to find the original message on his page.