September 19, 1982
In a posting made to a Carnegie Mellon bulletin board, Professor Scott Fahlman proposes the first known use of emoticons (also known as smilicons or smileys). While the use of emoticons became widespread during the 80’s and 90’s, their origin remained unknown until September 10, 2002, when the original message was retrieved from backup tape.
The following is the original message:
19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c> 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 :-(
Side note, personally I may have been the first to use a smilicon in printed form when I put one in my high school yearbook with my senior quote under my picture. Edwardsville High School Class of 1992!