Please Try again!
expand

Was This the World's First Emoticon?

Was This the World's First Emoticon?
Internet

Was This the World's First Emoticon?

The emoticon might be older than we thought. This passage of text, which includes a cheeky smiley, is taken from Robert Herrick's 1648 poem To Fortune-and it might be the first ever use of an emoticon.

Literary critic Levi Stahl thought the punctuation might be a typo in his copy of of Hesperides, but he checked out the authoritative two-volume edition of Herrick's work published last year by the Oxford University Press and found the exact same thing. Stahl has since claimed that that it could well be an intentional invention of the smiley, as the poet's work is generally cleverly written with smart, underlying humor.

If its is the first instance of an emoticon, it predates other claimants to the title by about 200 years. Of course, it's not clear if it was intentional or not, and it's tricky to ask Robert Herrick now. Indeed, The New Atlantis-a journal about tech and society-points out that there's a copy in existence without the parentheses, which could mean it was a clever editorial addition sometime after the first edition appeared.

In other words: we can't quite be sure if it's the first or not. But it's fun to think that it might be. [I've Been Reading Lately, The New Atlantis via The Atlantic]

Contribute to Gizmodo

Write for Us
FBI Wants 52 Million Photos in its Face Recognition Database by 2015Next StoryFBI Wants 52 Million Photos in its Face Recognition Database by 2015

Comments ()

X
Sort By:

TIMES GLOBAL PARTNERS

Times Global Partners is an initiative focused on partnering with Established and Emerging Global Digital Companies for growing their presence and business in India through growth in their Brand, audience, adoption, distribution and monetization.