Emoji History

The background, history, and future of the symbols that have taken over conversation all over the world.


  1. Emojis started as a simple idea, to allow people to express their emotions through text message without actually having to say "this makes me happy" or this makes me angry." Instead you now can just say, "I went to the mall today, and insert a smiley emoji face. And whoever you are texting will know that you are happy you went to the mall today. Lets face it, what would conversation be like without emojis. They have become such an integral part of texting conversations and expression, it is hard to imagine a world without them.
  2. Emoji Among Us: The Documentary
  3. Just a few years ago, people used parentheses to express emotions, like the smiley :) or the sad face :( or the winky ;). But in Japan in 1999, Shigetaka Kurita created the first prototypes for the emoji.
  4. Kurita was working on the first mobile internet platform called "i-mode." He was part of this project team who's goal was to give internet service on cellphones in Japan, which before, had very small monochrome LCD screen which could only fit in 48 letters. With this limited screen space it was hard to send enough information without an emoji. In an interview, Kurita explained “Everything was shown by text. Even the weather forecast was displayed as 'fine'. When I saw it, I found it difficult to understand. Japanese TV weather forecasts have always included pictures or symbols to describe the weather—for example, a picture of sun meant 'sunny'. Being so familiar with this culture, Kurita thought "I'd rather see a picture of the sun, instead of a text saying 'fine'. " He started to think that having a picture to show expressions would be important, and he recommended that i-mode add emojis. His proposal was accepted, and in just one month he had to come up with the world's first 180 emojis. Below you will find some of the first emojis that were the foundation for the emojis we know and love today.
  5. Without the emoji, it is hard to express emotions using only text, and Japanese culture was very adept to using pictures as a form of expression. For this reason, in Japan, the emojis were immediately a huge success. About 10 years later, the emojis spread quickly overseas, and are now available for use in text on almost every smartphone as its own separate keyboard to use either by themselves or as an addition to enhance your messages.
  6. In order to come up with these emojis, Kurita went into the city and watched how people expressed themselves. He thought of what may be clearer and better understood if there were pictures to help explain. In addition he realized that most emotions are universal, and people in all different cultures respond to these images in similar ways. For example, when a girl sends a man a text with a heart emoji, universally this gives the sense that there is some romance occurring, and this is the same no matter where you are.
  7. Today, emojis have become so popular that they have spread not only to text messages, but to other networks such as Facebook messaging, Twitter, and Instagram.
  8. Emojis have become so integrated into conversation, that people now use them to fill most of their messages or even to create whole stories just with emojis. People talk about how they are feeling, where they are going, or create words and sayings using only emojis. The text has truly come alive before our eyes.
  9. The popularity of emojis around the globe is only growing. Emojis are not only changing the way we express ourselves through text, but also expanding the way we communicate. And people and companies are having to adapt to this new way of thinking and talking in order to stay up to date in this new communicative world. Read below to find out more about how emojis have changed both text, people, and the way companies must approach the subject in the future.