World Emoji Day: The History of Emojis, As Told By Emojis

Smallball Team

Happy World Emoji Day! Over the past decade emojis and stickers have become the language of the digital age, constantly evolving and continuously being integrated into our regular communications. You probably remember when these symbols were simply a set of colon and parenthesis First smile emoji in history

Emojis have evolved into a complex and subjective pictorial language that ranges from the “crying laughing emoji” Crying Smiley Face Emoji to the highly personalized Bitmoji. For World Emoji Day, we celebrate the newest language of our age by giving a brief history of emojis and stickers illustrated with emojis! So let’s start from the very beginning…


Smiley Makes Its Debut Through Email

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The original emoji a.k.a. Smiley was born on September 19th, 1982 at Carnegie Mellon University. Scott Fahlman, a research professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon originally sent  Smiley debuts on email  in an email to other faculty members in order to propose sending smileys to each other as a joke. Unbeknownst to the professors, this joke would pick up traction and become a worldwide movement in a matter of decades. First Emoji in email


Japan Creates the First Text Emojis

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The first emojis were created in 1999 by Japanese designer Shigetaka Kurita. Kurita worked on the development team for a Japanese mobile provider called DOCOMO and designed emojis to convey emotion and information through text messages. The original set of 8-bit-style emojis features 176 symbols illustrating things like the weather, astrological signs, sports and activities, communication platforms and various other emojis that we now consider standard. This comprehensive set of emojis not only pioneered the technology necessary to add emojis to text messages, but also gave users a new perspective on how to communicate digitally.

Japanese emojis


Apple Releases New Emojis for Japanese Users

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Apple’s original emoji keyboard was released exclusively on iOS 2.2 to Japan’s iPhone users. The original emoji keyboard featured many of the same emojis as today’s emoji keyboard. With some exclusive emojis to Japan’s culture such as the Shibuya. Japan’s users loved the emoji so much that it would later become a worldwide phenomenon among Apples international users.


Emojis are Released Worldwide

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With the release of Apple’s iOS 5 in 2011 and Google’s Android following soon after, the world gained access to emojis on their mobile phones. With emoji technology improving, images started to evolve into sharper and more detailed symbols. In addition, the ongoing competition between iPhone and Android pushed each device to continue improving their emoji experience. As seen below, the visuals featured in android’s emoji keyboard take a much different illustration style than that of the iPhone.

Android Emojis

Google’s Android Emojis

iPhone Emojis

Apple iPhone’s Emojis


World Emoji Day Is Created

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In 2014, Jeremy Burge, creator of Emojipedia, started World Emoji Day to celebrate the popularity of the emoji. Interestingly enough, this particular date was chosen because the Apple calendar emoji displays one date, July 17th. The goal of World Emoji Day is to spread the use of emojis around the globe; to participate, simply use #WorldEmojiDay on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. In addition, many companies use this day to hold emoji events and initiate emoji-related promotions.

World Emoji Day Celebration

Hundreds of people set the record for “largest gathering of people dressed as emoji faces”


A New Sticker, Bitmoji, is Born

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In 2014, the use of mobile stickers rose significantly with the release of Bitmoji. This new integration revolutionized the mobile sticker industry, giving users the ability to create emojis modeled after themselves. Not only did Bitmoji bring a personalized element into the playing field, it also gave users the ability to send stickers based on mood, holiday, or occasion.

bitmoji image


A Touch of Color is Added to the Keyboard

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In 2015, Apple spiced up their classic yellow emojis with some diversity by adding the option to choose from a variety of skin tones. This integration gives the emoji an even more personalized feel while adding an element of social inclusion. To change the emoji’s skin color to the desired tone, simply hold your touch on the selected emoji for a second and a bank of six different colors will appear.


An Emoji Receives the “Word of the Year” Award

Word of the Year Emoji

At the end of every year, Oxford dictionary releases the most popular word of the year. In 2015, an emoji was chosen to be the word of the year for the very first time. The emoji to do this wasCrying Smiley Face Emoji. In case there’s any confusion on the intended emotion, this sticker symbolizes happiness with the tears representing “tears of joy”.

Word of the Year


Sony releases the Emoji Movie

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On July 28th, 2018 the emoji official took the red carpet by storm with the release the first emoji-based film: The Emoji Movie. The film focuses on a protagonist, Gene, whose face can display various emotions while being surrounded by world of characters who are stuck wearing only one expression. Gene wants to be “normal” and sets out to find code that will configure his face to only one setting. At the peak of the storyline, Gene embarks on a mission with two friends to save the world from permanent deletion.

The Emoji Movie


Apple Shares Details On the Release of Memoji

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In 2018 Apple released plans for the all new Memoji that will be featured in the new iOS12. The Memoji is a fully customizable and interactive emoji. These emojis use the iPhone X’s True Depth camera to map out each user’s facial expression on an individual basis.

Memoji Image


What’s Next?

Although the future is unclear, custom emoji and sticker keyboards have now become an essential marketing platform for many brands because they’re easily shared, consistent throughout device types and work wonders for building awareness and engagement. Better still, they’re incredibly easy to implement into a marketing strategy.

To learn more about digital stickers and custom emojis, contact us.

 

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