Since the 2010s, the characters known as emojis have pretty much evolved into their own language on our phones and computers. But the predecessors of the “picture characters” we know and use so regularly today are older than you’d expect.

Before emojis, there were emoticons, facial expressions made with punctuation marks. The first emoticons appeared in an issue of Puck magazine, all the way back in 1881. The magazine published four “faces”—conveying joy, melancholy, indifference, and astonishment—and called them “typographical art.”

They were first used as a way of communicating emotions online in 1982. When it became difficult for people to tell the difference between jokes and serious posts on a Carnegie Mellon University digital message board, faculty member named Scott Fahlman came up with a solution: add the symbol 🙂 to denote humorous posts, and add the symbol 🙁 to serious ones. In his announcement about this proposal, he even specified that readers should “read it sideways.”

So, what about emojis, the little pictures that now make texting so fun? Those were created in 1998 by Shigetaka Kurita, an engineer at the Japanese phone company, NTT Docomo. He was working on a way for customers to communicate through icons. The result was a set of 176 icons he called emoji. The name combines two Japanese words: “e” (picture) and “moji” (character). Kurita says that he drew inspiration for his emojis from manga, Chinese characters, and international signs for bathrooms.

Today, more than 1,800 emojis exist (and fortunately, they don’t have to be read sideways). How do new emoji’s make it onto our phones and computer screens? Believe it or not, that responsibility falls to an international organizing body called the Unicode Consortium. It’s the oversight group which maintains global standards for digital text display, and approves and accepts all new emojis, making sure there are no duplications and that new emojis are easily understandable to a large segment of the world. Have a clever idea for a new emoji that you think might express an idea in a unique way? Anyone can submit an idea to the Consortium between April 15 and August 31 each year. Who knows? Maybe a year or two from now, we’ll all be using what you thought was a throw-away doodle you scratched on an envelope as a standard symbol to communicate around the world!


  1. Dr. Robert Bowlby says

    Cancelling your dishonest and crappy service and going direct to ATT.
    Your “service” has been down all day today and your constant marketing lies about having to buy a new phone ASAP makes you lower than scumbags selling used cars!!
    I’ll also be making a lot of noise about your lying practices with AARP members!

    reply to Dr.

    • Hi Dr. Bowlby, thanks for your post. We do need to have our customers who do not have a VoLTE capable phone to purchase new ones soon since we are taking down the 3G towers and those that don’t have that VoLTE feature have been using them to continue to work. We definitely understand that this is frustrating and we’d be happy to go over questions about this or about our phones if you’d like to give us a call at 800-686-4460 or chat with one of our agents here for further assistance.

      reply to Jacob

  2. Kathy Folz says

    How do I terminate my service?

    reply to Kathy

  3. Vance Tenort says

    2 scary comments I just read, as I was contemplating switching to Consumer Cellular. Sounds like they need to spend more MONEY to get BETTER TECHS, to get DEPENDABLE, RELIABLE network to GET & KEEP your customers from making comments like the ones above that scare off potential & existing customers. Thanks for listening.

    reply to Vance

    • Hi Vance, we appreciate you taking the time to post. As with any provider, there will be some unsatisfied customers. If you have any concerns about the service, we would be happy to address them. Give us a call at 800-686-4460 or chat with one of our agents here for further assistance.

      reply to Jacob

  4. beulah Shipman says

    Can t call out or receive calls

    reply to beulah

    • Hi Beulah, thanks for your post. I’m sorry to hear about the trouble you’re having with service, but we’re happy to help with that. If you’re continuing to have trouble with service give us a call from a different line at 800-686-4460 or chat with one of our agents here for further assistance.

      reply to Jacob

  5. Joe sclafani says

    Do you have on your website pictures of your cellphones

    reply to Joe

  6. James-carney says


    reply to James-carney

  7. Herb V says

    Have no service since storm? What going on with restoring its?

    reply to Herb

  8. Mary says

    My husband and I have been with Consumer Cellular a long time almost ten years. They have given us the best service, the best service agents and assistance. Thank you for all of the help these many years and the ability to have cell phone service that does not cost us a fortune.

    reply to Mary

  9. Wanda says

    will a jitterbug phone work with consumer cellular?

    reply to Wanda

  10. PoconoJoe says

    Our switch from a big name carrier to Consumer Cellular has been a great experience and saved us a ton of money.
    Recently we had to replace a phone due to it only working under 3G. That experience has also been great. The added bonus was that Consumer Cellular gave us a $35 credit toward a new phone which was in total contrast with the big carrier we used to have. That big carrier always charged us $35 to upgrade and activate a new device. That big carrier had all kinds of charges to hit us with, unlike Consumer Cellular, which has zero surcharges.

    reply to PoconoJoe

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