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The emoticon turns 30 this month. 

There is certainly a range of emotion associated with marking the big three-oh. Anger, denial, confusion, elation—depending on your temperament and your access to a keyboard, it probably boils down to :-( or grin. Thanks to computer scientist Scott Fahlman, who first proposed this anthropomorphized use of punctuation on September 19, 1982, three characters are all we need to convey a general sense of contentment or otherwise. What is now hailed as the first modern emoticon wasn’t the result of a conversation between lovers or even bored employees; it was just a bunch of riled-up computer nerds posting to an online bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University. “Sometimes during a discussion, someone would take a comment more seriously than it was meant and get bent out of shape,” Fahlman recalls. “So I suggested the character sequence grin as a joke marker” and :-( as a symbol to indicate serious-mindedness. Any regrets? “I wish I’d invented the winky face.” grin


 

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