Friday, October 9, 2009

Facsmile* (for Facsimile*)

Most people probably think emoticons were invented in the 1980s. And it's true that, like a digital-age Samuel F. B. Morse, Scott Fahlman sent the first emoticon embedded in a computer message on Sept. 19, 1982. But the typographical smiley (frowny. . .) faces you see here were actually introduced to the public nearly a century before that, in the satirical weekly Puck, on March 30, 1881. Furthermore, it seems that emoticons (also called "snigger points" by Ambrose Bierce; possibly discovered in a speech by Abraham Lincoln; turning up in 1940s sci-fi fiction, teletype in the 1970s, and ubiquitous "happy face" schlock; even recommended by Vladimir Nabokov!) have been making periodic appearances ever since. Facsmile* appears 16 times in OhioLINK (23 if truncated to Facsm*) and copies of today's typo will likely be found in your catalog as well. In any case, some sort of fake smile or another is sure to be showing up somewhere soon.

(Puckish emoticons from Wikimedia Commons.)

<:^) Carol Reid (^:>

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