1963: Smiley is Born
Artist Harvey Ross Ball was asked to come up with an image that would cheer up employees at a local insurance company. They were stressed out over a bunch of difficult business mergers. Apparently, the company thought some perky imagery would solve the problem (LOL).
Ball came up with the now-infamous yellow grinning disk in less than ten minutes and was paid $240. But wait – it didn’t look like today’s version. The original smiley had no eyes and sported a mysterious Mona Lisa smile.
Worried that the cranky employees would invert the button and wear their smiles upside down, Ball added eyes
– deliberately making the right eye just a bit smaller than the left so the image wouldn’t look sanitized and perfect.
1971: 50 Million Grins Later…
In 1971, brothers Bernard and Murray Spain, owners of a couple of Hallmark card shops in Philadelphia, added the slogan “Have a Happy Day” to Ball’s smiley face and copyrighted their revision, which soon morphed into “Have A Nice Day”. By year’s end they’d sold more than 50 million grinning yellow buttons plus a multitude of other smiling products.
1972: Global Smiley
Following the tradition, in 1972 French journalist Franklin Loufrani began using the image in newspaper articles to indicate that the piece contained the rare bit of cheery news. He claimed commercial use rights for the smiley, which he successfully trademarked in over 100 countries. Shortly after, Loufrani launched the Smiley Company.
Flashback to 3,700 BC: Ancient Smiley
Loufrani believes the Smiley image predates Ball and actually dates back thousands of years to prehistoric art. The company website shows a stone-carved happy face
dated to 2500 BC, which was found in a French cave.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s a smiley face
dating back to 1741 in an old-school text message. And here’s another one
, perhaps the world’s oldest smiley face, that dates back to 3,700 BC!
1982: Cyber Smiley
Computer scientist Scott E. Fahlman wanted to come up with a way to help his peers quickly and accurately identify sarcastic or humorous comments. It was a problem the Carnegie Mellon university community been aware of for a while, but after “a humorous remark was interpreted by someone as a serious safety warning” they decided to do something.
The happy face emoticon was born soon after, on September 19, 1982. Fahlman notes on his website that he wanted to use a frownie face to “indicate that a message was meant to be taken seriously, though that symbol quickly evolved into a marker for displeasure, frustration, or anger.”
Today: Protecting Your Toothy Grin
All the original smileys had one thing in common – no teeth. But we think a toothy grin is the best kind of smile! It’s important to make sure you’re getting the dental care you need to truly love your smile, and dental savings plans are an affordable way to save 10-60% on your dental bills.