Professor Scott Fahlman is considered by many to be the father of emoticons, and he’s not exactly happy about what his contribution to online interactions has become. According to Gawker, Fahlman, who debuted the smiley face emoticon back on a message board back in 1982, firmly believes the graphical interpretations of his invention are beyond ugly.
Fahlman, who apparently doesn’t mince words, got right down to business when asked about the modern versions of his beloved emoticon. “I think they are ugly, and they ruin the challenge of trying to come up with a clever way to express emotions using standard keyboard characters. But perhaps that’s just because I invented the other kind,” he said in a recent interview with The Independent.
When the professor designed the smiley face to help readers differentiate between those who were writing humorously and those who meant business, he never knew it would become the phenomenon it is today. “This was a little bit of silliness that I tossed into a discussion about physics,” he explained. “It was ten minutes of my life. I expected my note might amuse a few of my friends, and that would be the end of it.”
Since Fahlman had no idea the impact the emoticon would have on the world of online interactions, he didn’t keep a copy of its debut. However, in 2002, a Microsoft engineer went through some back-up tapes to acquire the email containing the professor’s creation.
Although many feel that Fahlman is the godfather of the modern-day emoticon, some people are of the belief that the professor wasn’t the first person to utilize the text-based smiley face. Until someone coughs up evidence to the contrary, feel free to blame Scott Fahlman for your family’s overuse of the emoticon in every single e-mail they send to you.
Are you a fan of emoticons? Do you think Scott Fahlman’s creation is a necessity or an irritation?