The creation of the happy face is attributed to the American Harvey Ball, who in 1963 charged 45 dollars to make it for the State Mutual insurance company. After thinking for a few days, in 10 minutes he traced, on a yellow background, which evoked the sun, the eyes and the smile, the construction of the most recognizable gesture of well-being or happiness. However, neither Ball nor the firm registered it.
The happy face is the mother icon of so many others, or the cornerstone of emojis. It seems to have always been there. She started with the smile alone. Shortly after she added her eyes and her color. Thus Smiley, the famous yellow smiley face, was formally born in 1972, when the French journalist Franklin Loufrani registered it. It is celebrating half a century of existing legally and of being a benchmark in international graphic design and cultural influence that ranges from Talking Heads to Nirvana, from Acid House to DC Comics, from Banksy to Murakami. Throughout its history there have been harsh fights in court for the right to use it.
Smiley is a global brand with more than 400 international business partners, and continues to inspire creativity in the world of art, fashion, film, music, media and pop culture in general. Since its creation, it has lived several lives, to the point of originating its own language: emojis.
The smiley face took on a life of its own beyond State Mutual: in 1970 it became fashionable and a year later it was the best-selling image in the United States. Countless objects showed their smile
Fashion passed, like all fashions, but here and there the image stayed alive, until at the end of the 1980s it returned to the center of the scene, accompanied by numerous symbols and cultural artifacts from the ’60s and ’60s. 70s, recalled My Modern Met. Sweatshirts, cards, stickers, keyrings: the little face it was everywhere.
Others, however, got rich after making the intellectual record. In the early 1970s the owners of the Hallmark card company, Bernard and Murray Spain, inscribed the design in their name along with the slogan “Have a happy day”. They sold 50 million pins in a campaign that, in addition to aiming to make money, tried to raise the collective spirit in the United States affected by the Vietnam War. “The brothers publicly took credit for the symbol in 1971 on the television show What’s My Line, despite knowing that Ball was the original designer,” My Modern Met noted.
But what about the digital version? Who came up with the set of characters that represented a happy face and replaced the language in the electronic messages of the eighties? To Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University.
Before emojis—the little illustrations of facial expressions we use today—there were emoticons: symbols made from ASCII characters (punctuation marks, numbers, and letters) that expressed an emotion or feeling. In fact, its name comes from the English words emotion and icon.
The emoticons were born out of a prank gone wrong at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. On an online university message board, someone posted a hoax about a fake mercury spill, sending the entire university into a panic.
Due to the enormous confusion, Fahlman, a young member of the School of Computer Science, suggested using a couple of symbols to differentiate a serious text from a joke when communicating on the message board: it was a happy face and a happy face. sad face. And to share his idea, he sent a message to everyone saying:
“I propose the following sequence of characters to mark jokes: 🙂 Read it from the side. In reality, it’s probably cheaper to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use: :-(”.
That was Fahlman’s original message to his colleagues with the suggestion, which was issued on September 19, 1982. It was the first time a one-sided symbol was used in a three-character format, which consisted of two dots, a hyphen, and a parenthesis, and was read with a bowed head.
The Carnegie Mellon University community liked the idea, so the happy face and its sad counterpart began to be used intensively. They even arrived by mail to the networks of other universities, so their use was even greater.
Since its creation, the mission of the smiley face has been to spread good news and the mantra “take the time to smile”, very timely in these times of uncertainty.