– Scientists have found what they believe is the world’s oldest emoji – a smiley face scrawled in a legal document dating back to 1635.
So, now, it seems the history of the emoji is older than previously thought.
Emoji is of Japanese origin, created in 1998 for mobile phones by Kurita Shigetaka, an employee for NTT DoCoMo, a large Japanese mobile communication company. Kurita had intended the emoji for a more simplified and shorter form of communication, rather than using the long polite phrases and expressions that are very common in the Japanese culture.
The word “emoji” means “picture character”, and it was first used as a word in a dictionary in 2013. Today, we use various forms of the emoji om Facebook, Twitter, and in emails.
However, though mostly used to convey one’s emotions in the modern day, emoji has no literal connection to emotion. The resemblance to the English words emotion and emoticon is purely coincidental.
According to researchers from the National Archives in Trencin, Slovakia, it seems that the world’s first emoji was drawn by Jan Ladislaides, a lawyer 382 years ago.
“We found a smiley face, which dates from the 17th century – from 1635 – by notary Jan Ladislaides next to his signature,” head of the archive in Trencin Peter Brindza in Slovakia said.
As the story goes, nearly four centuries ago, a lawyer was reviewing municipal account documents in his tiny village nestled next to the Strážov Mountains of Slovakia.
The documents, he believed, were good that he decided to sign his approval by drawing a small circle with two dots and a line. It is an image many would recognize today as a smiley-face emoji.
The picture-postcard village is hypothetical, but the face is not.
“I do not know if it’s the oldest Slovakian smiley or the world’s oldest. But it is certainly one of the oldest in the Trencin region,” Brindza added.
Previously, the oldest known smiley face was in a 1648 poem, “To Fortune” by Robert Herrick, from England in 1648. The new find beats that by 13 years.