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The Smiley Face Turns 25 :-)

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the heh dept.

The Internet 250

klubar writes "Another milestone of online communications has been reached. The smiley turns 25, according to Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman who says he was the first to use three keystrokes. 'Language experts say the smiley face and other emotional icons, known as emoticons, have given people a concise way in e-mail and other electronic messages of expressing sentiments that otherwise would be difficult to detect. Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Editors... (4, Funny)

SirJorgelOfBorgel (897488) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661809)

Anyone else see an obvious mistake here? :D

Re:Editors... (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661853)

> Anyone else see an obvious mistake here? :D

"...I tossed off in 10 minutes to something that has spread all around the world", Fahlman was quoted as saying in a university statement.

Well, haven't we all?

It's the absence of a smiley that differentiates academic discourse from the sort of things that are transmitted by chatting softwares, or leaked through editorial boardses. ;-)

Zonked (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662125)

Been zonked again. Good job Zonk.

So the original had a - nose in it. I prefer :)

Now I would like to know who invented "hehehe"

Re:Zonked (2, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662739)

Seeing someone who's old enough to spell properly, and doesn't know that the original smiley face had a nose, makes me feel so, so old. :(

Re:Editors... (5, Funny)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662465)

"Anyone else see an obvious mistake here? :D"

I have NO idea what you are talking about! ;-)
now bite me! :-P
oh, wait, I'm sorry, that was rude :-(
forgive me? :-|
yes? ALRIGHT! :-)

You mean Smiley vs. Smiley Face? (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662529)

'Cause the smiley face has been tracked to 1962/1963 [straightdope.com] .

Uh, how old is :-)? (0, Redundant)

Shellbear (945076) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662645)

24 or 25? C'mon, the headline and body of the post should at least match. ;-)

Re:Uh, how old is :-)? (1)

kj_in_ottawa (838840) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662839)

maybe journalists start counting at 1?

2007-1982 = 25 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20661813)

math error?

Re:2007-1982 = 25 (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661915)

No, humour.

Just like, I'm 29 ;)

(Read my comment history to find out how old I really am -- you might have to be a subscriber, though)

Re:2007-1982 = 25 (3, Funny)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662425)

"(Read my comment history to find out how old I really am -- you might have to be a subscriber, though)"

PROTIP: Nobody cares.

Re:2007-1982 = 25 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662787)

9 months of gestation dumbass!

Damn editors (2, Insightful)

apollosfire (954290) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661817)

Ignore the headline, as the summary and article both state - it's 25!

It's not "25" - it's "24 and a smiley" (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661885)

Everyone knows if you give your age and a smiley, it means the age given, plus more.

Like people who are 29 for a long time, or 39 for a long time, etc.

It was a joke, but I didn't smile. It was lame :-O

Re:Damn editors (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661925)

I think it was a bad attempt at a joke. "See, it's a smiley so it's a joke!"

*grabs tomato and points at Zonk* >;-)

Re:Damn editors (1)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661967)

No no, your quite wrong, it appears we lost a year of our lives between the headline and the summary, something to do with quantum thingymajigs. I'd be outraged but its likely slashdot has already took few more years than that in anycase.

Re:Damn editors (1)

josh_db (1082509) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662011)

Let's start tagging "25", "!24", or both. Editors... -_- *sigh*

24? (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661831)

That means 1983 or so.

I know we were using these on a message board in 1979-1980 at a community college in Michigan prior to then. I might even be able to dig some of it up as I printed off a lot of messages back then and may still have them in an old computer paper box.

Rather odd anyone would lay a claim to inventing it. I'm certain the concept dates further back to teletypes and such.

Ah well, anything to start a ruckus on /.


Re:24? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20661917)

"I know we were using these on a message board in 1979-1980 at a community college in Michigan prior to then."

That's nothing. The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls were using them back then!

Re:24? (5, Funny)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662147)

Today's Headline - New Hieroglyph Discovered in Egyptian Pyramid

And in recent new today a new Hieroglyph has been discovered with the Great Pyramid of Giza. The symbol appears to consist of two vertically adjacent circles and a single curve segment whose curvature is oriented such that the 2 circles appear to be near the center of the circle that would be formed were the curve's slope extended out. Our man on the scene has provided us with a crude sketch of this Hieroglyph, whose meaning is unknown but which is suspected to be related to one of the primary emotions humans have experienced since the dawn of time.

: ) Note how the segment appears to be a piece of a general circle center on the 2 dots. Why a segment of a circle was chosen,
^ Rather than the full circle itself, and why it is centered on the dots, is currently unknown
Also Note how the two circles are placed one directly over the other. Most other Hieroglyphs have utilized slight angles, generally sloping inwards, so this discovery may help understand a great many things that are currently unknown about Egyptian society

This has been Faux News' Archeology Department. Stay tuned for the weather.

Re:24? (1)

nelk (923574) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662031)

I know we were using these on a message board in 1979-1980 at a community college in Michigan prior to then. I might even be able to dig some of it up as I printed off a lot of messages back then and may still have them in an old computer paper box.

Rather odd anyone would lay a claim to inventing it.


As odd as, say, someone keeping printouts of 25+ year old conversations from community college message boards? ;)

Re:24? (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662135)

As odd as, say, someone keeping printouts of 25+ year old conversations from community college message boards? ;)

We had some great discussions. We experience flame-wars (gun control as one I recall vividly), angry crapflooders, ALL CAPS, etc. Pretty well everything you see now came about the moment you threw a VT52 terminal and message system at people through which they could chat with anonymity. Heck, we even had cyber stalkers, those who wanted to find out who was using a certain name on the system (you could hit Ctrl-T and see which terminals were which TTY numbers, and the messages included TTY numbers in their headers.)

Strange it may have seemed, but I certainly wish I had kept more. They stuff is priceless and I have some good memories of those days. Still in touch with some of the geeks I chatted with back then.

Re:24? So interesting.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662475)

Can you post some of your conversations, maybe scans of the printouts, i would love to read them.

Re:24? (5, Funny)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662137)

As odd as, say, someone keeping printouts of 25+ year old conversations from community college message boards? ;)
Welcome to slashdot, you must be new here. Here is your 100 sided dice, your PHD in engineering that you acquired from google University. You're unbelievable hott girlfriend that is part of the demo-scene and collects old VAX/VMS hardware for fun should come in the mail soon...OR WILL SHE COME VIA TCP_OVER CARRIER PIGEON!!!??!!


Re:24? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662597)

Hey pal, some of us never believed that 100 siders were proper polyhedral dice. All the other stuff is true though.

Re:24? (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662699)

aaah.. +6 Funny.

gg blhack, gg.

Re:24? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662539)

It's possible then that you're the only person in the world who can prove an earlier instance of smiley-like emoticons. I think it'd be worthwhile and interesting to scan some of those conversations into wikipedia. Better move fast before the smiley cabal takes you and your secrets out! :-)

The emoticon is dead... long live XML! (5, Funny)

schmiddy (599730) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662575)

Thankfully, we no longer need to use this outdated technology of "emoticons" to denote humorous sentiments in email and online postings. Some have historically proposed the use of a "sarcasm" tag littered among ordinary text to convey the sarcastic emotion more accurately. I propose going one step further, and am proposing the Humour-XML standard, which will provide a much richer way to fully denote sentiments on the web. For instance, consider the sarcastic exprssion:

I'll get right on that ;-)

Even in this simple expression, the smiley face does not convey enough information to the reader to properly discern the mood of the poster. It is left ambiguous whether the poster is completely sarcastic, and will not "get right on that", or if the poster was merely in a humorous mood and implying that they will "get right on that" in a cheerful way. This failure to communicate is costing the American economy untold billions in lost productivity, rivaling that of "sick days" and movie piracy. The following is a rough draft of an XML standard I am proposing to completely eliminate our dependence on this obsolete form of communication.

I propose a full XML schema devoted to conveying emotion in email, web postings, and Usenet "flame" messages. For instance, the previous message would be written in Humour-XML as:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<message mood="sarcastic" level="highly"> I'll get right on that <smiley deprecated="yes" symbol=";-)" />

The message now contains no ambiguities — the reader understands that the poster is "highly sarcastic" , and does not actually intend to "get right on that"

The Humour-XML schema provides numerous benefits to users such as: enhanced text-to-speech renderings of postings (the speaker's voice could convey emotion, etc.), backwards compatibility with obsolete emoticons, UTF-8 support, building the Semantic Web from the ground up, and other benefits too numerous to enumerate here. Without extolling the virtues of this fantastic language too greatly, I'll touch on one more gold mine of usability: using XSLT [wikipedia.org] to transfrom Humour-XML to other forms, such as emoticon-text or even SVG graphics. For instance, we can define an XSLT stylesheet like so:

<?xml version="1.0" ?>
<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform" version="1.0">
<xsl:output method="xml" indent="yes"/>

<xsl:template match="posting">
<emoticon_text> <xsl:apply-templates/> </emoticon_text>

<xsl:template match="message">
<xsl:copy> <xsl:apply-templates> </xsl:copy>
<xsl:template match="message">
<xsl:text> <xsl:value-of select="symbol" /> </xsl:text>

The example XSLT spreadsheet provided here should provide posters eager to try this amazing technology a head-start. I am in the process of carefully constructing a DTD for Humour-XML, as well as several more very useful XSLT stylesheets. I hereby disclaim all patents on said technology, and promise that Humour-XML is free for the world to use royalty-free, forever.

Graphical smilies suck (5, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661835)

I hate how you type :) in IM or message boards now and they replace the :) with a graphic. I think that ruins it.

I won't even get into how annoying it is when it changes part of your text that isn't a smiley into a smiley only because it detects the text. It is like how some MMORPGS do ***umption and stuff.

Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

egotripper (202546) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661911)

I remember not just smilies but full character animations on the PLATO system circa 1976. Admittedly, PLATO wasn't limited to regular ASCII characters.

Re:Graphical smilies suck (4, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662019)

As a matter of fact, Plato only used Greek characters.

(And people don't typically capitalize all the letters in his name. Just a heads-up.)

Re:Graphical smilies suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662617)

hahaha, wow, that is the funniest post I've seen on Slashdot for awhile. or maybe I'm tired and easily amused. either way, I laughed for about half a minute.

Re:Graphical smilies suck (4, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661977)

Yeah, doesn't that make you want to ******inate someone?

Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662069)

I prefer text smilies over graphical smilies also. :-D

Gchat animates text smilies which is kind of neat. If you hover over them with your mouse they reanimate. Its fun to make a bunch of them and the send them in GChat and hover over them and you see lots of animated smiles.

I'm real glad I installed Adblock Plus extension in Firefox because I have not seen that stupid smilie AD. Some of them make noises like crying or laughing.
:-| :-/ :-( :-O 0-| :=| ...

Futurama? (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662123)

Hmm... 0-| = I'm Leela and I'm not impressed?

Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

the Plums in us (1040258) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662199)

Another hater of graphical emoticons here. For awhile I even habitually reversed them when I typed so that parsers wouldn't change them into graphics (:

Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

AnarchyAo (1157021) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662219)

A lot of instant messaging clients, like AIM, allow you to disable graphic smileys! Smile on, friend Smile on :-)

Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

jmb-d (322230) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662291)

It's not limited to just MMORPGs -- a while back I was reading a thread on the GuitarNoise [guitarnoise.com] forums about musical genres. Someone referenced Surf music and I almost laughed out loud when I saw the artist cited as an example: Richard Dale.

If you've ever been to his website [dickdale.com] or seen him in concert, you'll know that Dick Dale is definitely a "Dick", not a "Richard".

I posted a comment to that effect, only to see the references in my post ALSO listed as "Richard". Seems that the BB software in use at the time had a "kiddie filter" turned on.

Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

niteice (793961) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662367)

It is like how some MMORPGS do ***umption and stuff.
You clearly have never Googled for "buttbuttinate."

Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

Jarik_Tentsu (1065748) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662735)

I agree. That's why I've turned off emoticons in MSN, so whenever anyone sends me something all I get is sexeh ASCII goodness.

Of course, custom emoticons become a nuisance, since all I get is strange character combinations that they type to use them...but after a while you can guess what they must mean.

And I tend to use =) and =P over :) and :P most of the time.


Re:Graphical smilies suck (1)

vixen337 (986423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662845)

I once got banned from a message board for posting a photo and description my caged bird (cockatiel) and I once got kicked from a chat by a bot for discussing the career of Richard Van Dyke (aka "Dick").

Auto-subs are fun.

Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20661847)


obligatory (4, Funny)

blhack (921171) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661859)

Smilies are lame :(...

now bow before you evil smiley overlord >:-|
^emoticons, making perl regex NSFW for 24 years!

Re:obligatory (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661933)

Perhaps you prefer the Smilies from SmileyCentral.com. (SAY SOMETHING! [newgrounds.com] )

On the other hand those are annoying.

Re:obligatory (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661963)

pff, those look lame.
/ / ( . Y . ) \ \

bam. that's better, but the spacing needs work.

Re:obligatory (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662149)

Someone please post the ascii goatse already...

Re:obligatory (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662817)

I believe someone on gamedev.net once recieved a 24 hour posting ban, after a thread on ascii goatse 'implementations', for posting this:


Re:obligatory (1)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661995)

Smilies are lame :(...

^emoticons, making perl regex NSFW for 24 years!

s/24/25/; // <-- NSFW!!

There, fixed that for you. :)

Re:obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662053)


Note that the filter is really obnoxious when you have something terse to post.

wtf ?? (1)

Saija (1114681) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661863)

Somebody else read that as "The smileys meets 24" ??
i'm just imagine how could you make a smiley for Bauer...

Re:wtf ?? (2, Funny)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661903)

>:-O Who are you working for?!
6:45:57... 6:45:58... 6:45:59...

can you count? (1)

ninjapiratemonkey (968710) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661867)

Even the firehose article has the numbers right, but somehow once it's released to the public, they have to make a mistake?

Re:can you count? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662405)

It was a joke.

The `:-)' was to indicate it was a joke. ;)

You didn't get it. =p


Re:can you count? (1)

Cctoide (923843) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662551)

They decided the ensuing flamewars would be too boring without errors, so they added some.

Re:can you count? (2, Funny)

sunami88 (1074925) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662675)

Its like Zonk is trying too hard to unimpress us these days. Before he just was unimpressive (see what I did there?).

PARTY! (0, Redundant)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661869)

<:^) ^_^ :-D :-* ;-)
(.)(.) Look! We brought a stripper that pops out of the cake! LOL!

Re:PARTY! (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662603)

I can't believe no one got that one. Oh, well, they all can't be winners.

25 years ago... (5, Funny)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661893)

And it wasn't short after that fateful day, in the next post in fact, that the 8========D came along, forever ruining the intarweb. Historians would later say it was only a matter of time.

And in 1994... (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661939)

I added my own wrinkle to the smiley - witness the smiley pig: :@)

I did it as an homage to the Arkansas Razorbacks... and so should you :@D :@D :@D

-John Mark

Re:And in 1994... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661989)

So the Smileypig song would actually be written as follows:

:@)...:@)...Does what ever a :@) does...

or something like that?

Re:And in 1994... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662015)

Also from the 1990s: Ronald Reagan ?:-)=

Re:And in 1994... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662017)

Sorry, I claim prior art: :@) was posted by me (and others) as early as 1989-1990 on Detroit-area BBSes, including S*O*L*A*R*I*S and Gateway. Also seen on Fidonet that early.

Re:And in 1994... (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662071)

Yeah, but my /. ID is older, so nyah nyah nyah ;)

Re:And in 1994... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662173)

Well, this not my original Slashdot account [slashdot.org] . I don't use that one anymore mostly because I can't remember the password to it.

Hmmmm... (1)

VlartBlart (948166) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661949)


I'm not happy about this.

tag: !24 age==25 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20661957)

tag: !24 age==25

Spam will be 20 soon. I claim first use, Nov 1987. (3, Interesting)

notthepainter (759494) | more than 7 years ago | (#20661965)

November 23, 1987 I was surprised when a total stranger told me I had first use. Best explanation is from this interview.

http://beyond.jeannettecezanne.com/2007/08/05/the-origins-of-spam/ [jeannettecezanne.com]

Here's the original posting.

http://groups.google.com/group/news.admin.net-abuse.email/msg/b7ce97a77276e16f?q=ken+weaverling+spam+usenet+first&hl=en&rnum=1 [google.com] Paul

Re:Spam will be 20 soon. I claim first use, Nov 19 (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662045)

Dig the "Al Gore didn't invent it yet" line in YFA. Someone mod parent up.

The Cheer (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662109)


Re:The Cheer (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662309)



The only thing I see wrong... (4, Interesting)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662121)

Is the guy is full of shit in making such a claim. ASCII Art, including the use of emoticons, have been around a lot longer than his first use of it. To claim he was the first and/or created the idea is insane.

I'm sorry, but I grew up in the 300 baud modem, emoticon existing and using days that predate his claim by over half a decade.

Re:The only thing I see wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662237)

Some of us used 110 baud acoustic couplers, kid...

Re:The only thing I see wrong... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662241)

Well then, someone should be able to provide evidence of a prior smiley, right?

Re:The only thing I see wrong... (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662523)

And I am sure someone could - but who really would care that much to do so? The smiley, such that it is, ":-)" predates the late 70's anyway - but on different hardware.

Maybe he's bragging about the fact that he wrote an "instruction manual" for it?

Re:The only thing I see wrong... (5, Funny)

brarrr (99867) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662305)

you grew up in a 300 baud modem? must have been both uncomfortable and incredibly noisy. it'd be like constantly trying to see through the hayes.

Re:The only thing I see wrong... (5, Funny)

Jay L (74152) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662467)

Nice ATtitude. Triple-plus.

Um, look at the article. (5, Insightful)

Higaran (835598) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662139)

The article is about how the smiley face is used for humorus purposed, so how many geeks missed that the title was actually a joke, looks like just about everyone so far. Wow I don't know if I should be happy that I got it, or terrified that I did. Well anyways. (.) (.) V

Re:Um, look at the article. (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662365)

I like my ascii breasts better.

( . )Y( . )

Re:Um, look at the article. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662693)

only on slashdot do the basement dwellers let it be known that they think the vagina is located somewhere between a woman's breasts.

A weird, possibly local, BBS lingo (5, Interesting)

qdaku (729578) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662161)

I remember early - mid nineties when I used to draw ascii (newschool, though I dabbled a bit in the oldschool too) for various groups / BBS in the 905/416/519 region (southern ontario and parts of quebec), that there used to be a different system instead of smileys. Smileys were frowned upon. Instead the system revolved around:

(g) - grin

(bg) - big grin

(vbg) - very big grin

I wonder if it was just a local thing, or if anyone else used to use that too.

Re:A weird, possibly local, BBS lingo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662773)

Hailing from a little farther north in Ontario (705 region), all the BBS's around there also used and whatnot instead of smilies.

Beebs Prision and The Ravens Nest forever! And damn Xanadu (whereever you were), our mortal BRE enemies.

Actually its 26 years old! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662189)

... because I was the first person to use this combination of characters:


See, its a smiley face! All hail me!

Seriously though, how can any one person claim to be the first to make a face out of letters on a screen?

Teletypes (2, Insightful)

Miykayl (841085) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662203)

Yes... That "Old School" porn...

Pinup girls printed in 80-columns of delicious Courier(ish) typeface.

I would be stunned if smiley faces were not in use to some degree in the 70's, or even the late 60's, when teletypes (with 110-baud modems) were how most news services sent and received news...

They had the nice pin-up girls...

And, what work it must have been to make ACII art back in the day, before video-card drivers had ASCII-effect filters...


Re:Teletypes (1)

m0nkyman (7101) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662271)

For once the slashdot lameness filter is correct. :( [starsol.org]

It wouldn't let me post this. ;)

Re:Teletypes (1)

Cemu (968469) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662449)

Yeah, it wouldn't let me post this one either. [gefroh.com] :-(

My favorite smilie (0, Offtopic)

QMalcolm (1094433) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662353)


A guy jerking it. Tell your friends!

Re:My favorite smilie (2, Funny)

ampathee (682788) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662481)

See Dinosaur Comics [qwantz.com] .


The original thread... (3, Informative)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662369)

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~sef/Orig-Smiley.htm [cmu.edu]


Original Bboard Thread in which :-) was proposed

Here is the original message posted by Scott Fahlman on 19 September, 1982:

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)

From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)

Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark

things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(

The entire thread is reproduced below. We didn't have formal newsgroup threads in those days, but these are all the messages that mention the need for a joke marker or that use the :-) symbol.

This was retrieved from the spice vax oct-82 backup tape by Jeff Baird on September 10, 2002. The period covered is 16 September 1982 through 21 October 1982.

Credits: Here is the account by Mike Jones describing how this ancient post was retrieved. It's an impressive piece of digital archeology, with many contributors. I am grateful to Mike, to Jeff Baird, and to all the others who played a role in this effort. It is great that we can view this bit of Internet history once again.

Many people were involved in this computing archaeology success story. I (Mike Jones) kicked off the effort in February 2002 by looking through some old bboard program (Bags) sources, figuring out the filename that the post would likely be found under (/usr/cmu/lib/bb/general.bb), and asking Howard Wactlar, the former CMU SCS facilities director, whether the file could still be restored. Scott Fahlman provided data narrowing the probable span of time during which the post was made. Howard and Bob Cosgrove, the current director, determined that backup tapes from that period (1981-1983) still existed and asked Jeff Baird of the facilities staff to try to find and restore the post. Dave Livingston of facilities located a working 9- track tape drive and a machine to use it on. Kirk Berthold and Michael Riley in CS operations managed retrieving tapes from off-site archival storage. Grad student Dan Pelleg's FreeBSD machine was used to read the 4.1BSD dump format tapes using a compatibility mode in the restore program. (Later in the effort a NetBSD machine was used to do the same thing.) Dale Moore looked for the post on Tops-20 backup tapes from CMU-20C. But by all accounts, Jeff Baird should get most of the credit for doing the hard work of locating and retrieving the data. He kept asking for more tapes, reading those that could still be read, narrowing the date range, and sticking with it until the post was found. Thanks all for your efforts to restore this part of computing history, and especially, thanks Jeff!

Note: There apparently were a few posts prior to 16 September (not on the tape that was retrieved) that posed various physics questions about what would happen to various objects in an elevator if you cut the cable. Given the quality of the elevators in Wean Hall (then and now), this was more than idle speculation.

Apparently someone had posed the problem of what would happen to a helium balloon in free-fall, someone else had asked about pigeons flying around in the falling elevator, and someone had then asked what would happen if the birds were breathing the helium...

16-Sep-82 11:51 James Wright at CMU-780D Related question

Of equal interest is how the birds cheeping will

sound after they have inhaled the Helium.


16-Sep-82 12:09 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Pigeon type question

This question does not involve pigeons, but is similar:

There is a lit candle in an elevator mounted on a bracket attached to

the middle of one wall (say, 2" from the wall). A drop of mercury

is on the floor. The cable snaps and the elevator falls.

What happens to the candle and the mercury?


16-Sep-82 17:21 Howard Gayle at CMU-780G WARNING!

Because of a recent physics experiment, the leftmost elevator has been

contaminated with mercury. There is also some slight fire damage.

Decontamination should be complete by 08:00 Friday.


16-Sep-82 21:34 Rudy Nedved at CMU-10A Re: WARNING!!

The previous bboard message about mercury is related to the comment

by Neil Swartz about Physics experiments. It is not an actual


Last year parts of Doherty Hall were closed off because of spilled

mercury. My high school closed down a lab because of a dropped bottle

of mercury.

My apology for spoiling the joke but people were upset and yelling

fire in a crowded theatre is bad news....so are jokes on day old



17-Sep-82 10:35 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Answer to elevator question

The answer is that the candle goes out due to lack of oxygen. (There are no

longer any convection currents to keep feeding it) The mercury forms into

an ellipsoid due to surface tension. In balling up it exerts a force on the

floor which sends it towards the ceiling. It will bounce back and forth

between ceiling and floor until the elevator hits the ground. All of this

neglects the friction on the guide rails, vibrations, etc.

Any resemblance of this problem to any real situation is

purely coincidence, or in the mind of an operations staff person.


17-Sep-82 10:58 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Elevator posts

Apparently there has been some confusion about elevators and such. After

talking to Rudy, I have discovered that there is no mercury spill in any of

the Wean hall elevators. Many people seem to have taken the notice about

the physics department seriously.

Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (*) in the subject

field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke.


17-Sep-82 13:04 Scott Fahlman at CMU-10A Elevators (*)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the elevator...

Unfortunately, the center elevator now contains what seems to be the

remains of 40,000 two-pound pigeons in an advanced state of

decomposition and the right elevator contains a bear of indeterminate

color. The left elevator appears to be safe, but when you stand in it

for too long, your voice gets squeaky and you start running into the

walls, causing the elevator to rise.

Despite the * in the header of this message, this is not a joke and

should be taken quite literallly. Do not panic -- taking the stairs is

good for you.


17-Sep-82 14:43 Thomas Rodeheffer at CMU-10A Candles in Zero-G

I seem to recall hearing about an experiment with burning candles in

zero-G (skylab?) in which the result was that the candle did NOT go

out, even though, as has been noted, you don't get convection

currents without gravity. According to what I recall, a candle

burning in zero-G doesn't have a real flame, just a globular glowing

area around the wick. Supposedly the explanation was that oxygen

diffuses towards the wick (and carbon dioxide and water vapor diffuse

away) fast enough to keep combustion going. Does anybody remember

anything more about this?


17-Sep-82 14:59 Joseph Ginder at CMU-10A (*%)

I believe that the joke character should be % rather than *.


17-Sep-82 15:15 Anthony Stentz at CMU-780G (*%)

How about using * for good jokes and % for bad jokes?

We could even use *% for jokes that are so bad,

they're funny.


17-Sep-82 17:40 Keith Wright at CMU-10A *%&#$ Jokes!

No, no, no! Surely everyone will agree that "&" is the funniest

character on the keyboard. It looks funny (like a jolly fat man

in convulsions of laughter). It sounds funny (say it loud and

fast three times). I just know if I could get my nose into the

vacuum of the CRT it would even smell funny!


17-Sep-82 17:42 Leonard Hamey at CMU-10A {#} (previously *)

A detailed (i.e. > 1 minute) study of the aesthetic and pictographic

effects of the characters available in the ASCII set has led to

the following suggestion:

I think that the joke character should be the sequence {#}

because it looks like two lips with teeth showing between them.

This is the expected result if someone actually laughs their head off.

An obvious abbreviation of this sequence would be the hash character

itself (which can also be read as the sharp character and suggests

a quality which may be lacking in those too obtuse to appreciate

the joke.)


17-Sep-82 18:52 Jim Crowley at CMU-10A BB Jokes

BB jokes are fine and should not require a marker.

But jokes should not be malicious, obscene, or such that they

appear to resemble real warnings to all but a few.

Last nights elevator hoax was a borderline case of this last



18-Sep-82 20:40 Guy Steele at CMU-10A ! Joke markers again

I hope everyone realized that my previous remark about non-use

of joke markers was a joke, and was flagged as such by the

absence of a marker. This message is not a joke, as indicated

by the exclamation point.


19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)

From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)

Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark

things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(


19-Sep-82 18:56 Jeff Shrager at CMU-10A 38521,03,9(6),9(9),1(5),0

Just signifying that a message is a joke is certainly not sufficient.

One can develop a taxonomy of bboard message types along several different

dimensions. Also, where a continuum is preferable to a taxonomy (such as

where humor value is at issue) one can similarly use a scale to indicate

where along that scale this message lies. Suppose that all dimensions are

refered to by a ten point scale (we'll use all integers here although one

can certainly imagine reals in the case of fine grain continuous scales).

Some dimensions will be bitwise encoded as well.

Here is a sample of a coding scheme:

COMMUNITY: (this is a binary scale with a bit position for

                        each department totalling about 32 bits)

TOPIC: (two digits 00-99)

                (00) Political, (01) Scientific, (02) Computer, (03) Meta, etc

FLAME VALUE: (continuous 0.0-10.0)

HUMOR VALUE: (0.0-10.0)

BORDOM VALUE: (0.0-10.0)

INFORMATIONAL CONTENT: (-10.0 (for queries) to 10.0 (for their answers))

Note that some of these scales are purely according to the opinion

of the author. Thus, we provide, also, a confidence scale: to go along

with each continuous scale (to be enclosed in parens after the value).


20-Sep-82 08:34 Jaime Carbonell at CMU-10A & # % :-) ...

To resolve ambiguity, how about a JOKE BB? We can hook up some of that

highly-touted write-only memory just for this purpose. While I'm at it,

how about a flame BB using the latest cryogenic junction memory (to cool

down the contents of the memory, of course).


20-Sep-82 16:23 Dave Touretzky at CMU-10A (-: bboard software change

As of October 1st, the General bboard will be renamed the Jokes bboard.

Please update your SWITCH.INI file. In the event of a serious notice,

we will post it under the name "Sharon Burks". When the bboard contains

messages whose total bogosity score exceeds 5000 microLenats, the file

will be zeroed so novice bboard players can have a chance to score.


20-Sep-82 17:56 15-1xx Labs at CMU-750Y jokes \__/

We on the gandalf vax have our own code word for a joke. The above symbol

is universally known as a smile.

Also, perhaps Jeff could include in his scale a "length to humor ratio",

as we seem to notice that the relation between some post's lengths are

inversely proportional to their length.

                              Not Sharon Burks,

                              'ob and 'im


20-Sep-82 22:33 James Driscoll at CMU-10A IC After Dark

The first meeting of the (unofficial) IC mini-course ``Pittsburgh After

Dark'' will be this Thursday at 9:00 PM in the CS lounge. The first

lecture will be ``Shadyside Bars: Taxonomy, Characteristics, and

Examples.'' Lab follows lecture. Participants should bring proof of

age. New students are encouraged to attend.

|-: (This is not a joke)


21-Sep-82 14:27 Wilson Harvey at CMU-IUS (-: Dramatic bb posts :-)

could be flagged with the above notation. Things like ...

        "I was a Teen-age Hacker"


        "I won't write that subroutine for you. I won't because every part of

          me wants to." :-|

        Seriously, I have found someone's pen in the CS Supply Room. Send me

        mail to get it back.


22-Sep-82 12:43 Robert Thibadeau at CMU-10A Pittsburgh Zoo Options

The zoo is a worthwhile place to visit, but in my three years

in Pittsburgh I have watched it deteriorate for lack of funds.

Fortunately they have this wonderful 'adopt an animal' program.

The adoption can be a day or month. Orangutanns eat light at

$.75 a day or $22.50 a month, and for $15 a day or $450 a month

you get yourself an entire elephant. Double that and you can

probably have his name changed to Clyde. Triple it and I bet

they will let you dye him pink. Visitation rights come with any

adoption. The flyer is on my office door -- 5321.


22-Sep-82 14:14 John Schlag at CMU-750R :-) AI Elephant (-:

I think all the members of the CMU AI community should pitch together

to adopt an elephant at the Zoo. Of course, Thibadeau's suggestion of

tripling the price should be taken.


22-Sep-82 21:26 Masaru Tomita at CMU-10A (:-O) missing picture

The picture of me on the picture board in the CS lounge is missing.

One of the members of Tommy's fan club must have taken it.

Please note that I have a wife.


22-Sep-82 21:31 James Muller at CMU-750Y ?

I propose that the above character be placed in the subject field of all

posts which ask questions.



22-Sep-82 23:29 Ravinder Chandhok :-( (-:

From: Ravinder Chandhok at CMU-750Y

Perhaps what we really need is a 'bb notation' bboard for such posts

that relate to notation and signals.



23-Sep-82 10:40 Stephen Hancock Jokes

From: Stephen Hancock

With all of this talk about jokes on the BBoard, perhaps we should create a

jokes BBoard. This would remove any doubt about whether or not the message

is a joke or not. Additionally this would spare us from being forced to

page through many jokes when we don't have the time to spare. It would

also be nice to be able to decide to read through a number of hopefully

good or alteast original jokes on demand.

P.S. My reference to us/we, was how I feel about the topic. However, I

          believe many other people feel the same way.



03-Oct-82 19:36 Scott Fahlman at CMU-10A Rumor of the Week :-)

The person singing the theme at the start of each Star Trek episode is

in fact Slim Whitman.

Special bonus rumor: Slim Whitman has just been hired by Tartan Labs.


03-Oct-82 21:47 Wilson Harvey at CMU-IUS For anyone interested ...

I have a picture of ET holding a chainsaw in .press file format. The file

exists in /usr/wah/public/etchainsaw.press on the IUS.


03-Oct-82 23:43 Guy Jacobson at CMU-780G Holding a chainsaw?? :-)

Does anyone have a picture of R2D2 holding a seed auger in TeX format?

Or how about a rendering of Yoda with a lathe for use with nroff?

Any pointers to digitized images of short, cute aliens holding power

tools would be greatly appreciated.


Not long after this, we see that the idea had spread outside of CMU. This message also shows how quick people were to create lists of new smileys. I wonder what ever became of Jim Morris...

Mail-from: Arpanet host CMU-10A rcvd at 10-NOV-82 0826-PST

Date: 10 November 1982 1126-EST (Wednesday)

From: James.Morris at CMU-10A

To: csl^ at PARC-MAXC, isl^ at PARC-MAXC, junk^ at PARC-MAXC

Subject: Communications Breakthrough


Because you can't see the person who is sending you electronic

mail you are sometimes uncertain whether they are serious or

joking. Recently, Scott Fahlman at CMU devised a scheme for

annotating one's messages to overcome this problem. If you turn

your head sideways to look at the three characters :-) they look

sort of like a smiling face. Thus, if someone sends you a

message that says "Have you stopped beating your wife?:-)" you

know they are joking. If they say "I need to talk to you :-(",

be prepared for trouble.

Since Scott's original proposal, many further symbols have been

proposed here:

(:-) for messages dealing with bicycle helmets

@= for messages dealing with nuclear war


Re:The original thread... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662797)

Amazing. I'm glad CMU has always been this geeky. A lot of those names are still around here today too, interestingly enough.

You're kidding, right? (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662379)

High school girls have been using Smiley's in passed notes since the advent of paper.

Just because it's on the computer, it must be new!

I know I saw them in a military communications in '84 during transatlantic tests. 2 people, many hours away really,really tired tend to get punchy...I wonder this is the person I was communicating with? That would be weird!

Oops (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662403)

thats 75 not 84. Must pay more attention to the home row.

The smiley face is old. (1)

Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662409)

There is no emoticon to express what I'm feeling.

Re:The smiley face is old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662771)


Prior Art? (5, Interesting)

darqchild (570580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662429)

I believe there is prior art, found in an 18th century poem. I'd bet that typesetters had been mucking about with this stuff since the invention of movable type.

http://maul.deepsky.com/~merovech/smiley.html [deepsky.com]

Re:Prior Art? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662655)

Coincidental occurrence of :) does not make a smiley, at least in the sense that we are accustomed to. Smiley might be older that 25 & could be even older than 18th century book you linked to. but the :) in that book is not a smiley.

Re:Prior Art? (2, Informative)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662841)

I thought so at first too, but after a second reading, the punctuation has no sense in the context, and wouldn't have been used in a XVIIIth century book professionnaly typesetted. I side with the pun interpretation on this one. While punctuation has been more laxed in earlier centuries, proper usage was setteled and to break the line a coma or a semicolumn would have been used. ':' means 'therefore' in french (and probably in english too), it's never used as a pause or silence.

25... but I'm taking away one year... (0, Troll)

autophile (640621) | more than 7 years ago | (#20662789)

...but I'm taking away one year for that time AOL joined the Internet. That's a year everyone wants to forget!


How to convert smiley gifs to ascii smilies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20662837)

Does anyone know how to convert those obnoxious yellow smiley gifs to plain ascii? I use Mark Pilgrim's 'Frownies' Greasemonkey script but it misses a lot of them.
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