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Title: Smiley  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Have a nice day, Watchmen, Nicolas Loufrani, Raster graphics, Mr. Cranky
Collection: Emoticons, Face, Pictograms, Typographical Symbols
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


First appearance 1948, 1963

A smiley (sometimes simply called a happy or smiling face) is a stylized representation of a smiling humanoid face, an important part of popular culture. The classic form designed in 1963 comprises a yellow circle with two black dots representing eyes and a black arc representing the mouth (). On the Internet and in other plain text communication channels, the emoticon form (sometimes also called the smiley-face emoticon) has traditionally been most popular, typically employing a colon and a right parenthesis to form sequences like :^), :), or (: that resemble a smiling face when viewed after rotation through 90 degrees. "Smiley" is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon. The smiley has been referenced in nearly all areas of Western culture including music, movies, and art.

The plural form "smilies" is commonly used,[1] but the variant spelling "smilie" is not as common as the "y" spelling.[2]


  • History 1
  • In text 2
  • Transforming Smiley into graphical emoticons 3
  • Licensing and legal issues 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The poet and author Johannes V. Jensen was amongst other things famous for experimenting with the form of his writing. In a letter sent to publisher Ernst Bojesen in December 1900 he includes both a happy face and a sad face, resembling the modern smiley.

A poster for Lili in 1953

Ingmar Bergman's 1948 film Port of Call includes a scene where the unhappy Berit draws a sad face – closely resembling the modern "frowny", but including a dot for the nose – in lipstick on her mirror, before being interrupted.[3] In 1953 and 1958, similar happy faces were used in promotional campaigns for the films Lili and Gigi.

The WMCA 1962 sweatshirt

The smiley was first introduced to popular culture as part of a promotion by New York radio station WMCA beginning in 1962. Listeners who answered their phone "WMCA Good Guys!" were rewarded with a "WMCA good guys" sweatshirt that incorporated a happy face into its design. Thousands of these sweatshirts were given away.[4][5][6] The WMCA smiley was yellow with black dots as eyes, but it had a slightly crooked smile instead of a full smile, and no creases in the mouth.[6]

As per

  • History of the Acid House Smiley Face

External links

  1. ^ Google Ngram Viewer: smilies vs smileys
  2. ^ Google Ngram Viewer: smilie vs smiley
  3. ^ A still from the scene.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b c
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  8. ^ a b
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  10. ^ Peter Shapiro, Smiling Faces Sometimes, in The Wire, issue 203, January 2001, pp44-49.
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  12. ^ Fahlman's original message Retrieved October 27, 2013.
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  19. ^ Announcing WGL Assistant. Announcement: WGL Assistant V1.1 Beta available, comp.fonts, 27 July 1999, Microsoft Typography – News archive.
  20. ^ Unicode/Character reference/2000-2FFF
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  27. ^
  28. ^,%20License%20Global.pdf
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  33. ^ The relevant text is in the Order granting summary judgment: Timothy C. Batten, Sr., "ORDER" (03/21/2008)", section "B. Threshold Issue: Trademark Ownership", case "1:06-cv-00526-TCB", document 103, pages 15-19
  34. ^ Sony, Astellas, Intel, Apple, Wal-Mart, Warner: Intellectual Property Victoria Slind-Flor, Jul 1, 2011, Bloomberg. The case is Loufrani v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 1:09-cv- 03062, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).


See also

In June 2010, Wal-Mart and the Smiley Company founded by Loufrani settled their 10-year-old dispute in front of the Chicago federal court. The terms remain confidential.[34]

Wal-Mart began phasing out the smiley face on its vests[31] and its website[32] in 2006. Despite that, Wal-Mart sued an online parodist for alleged "trademark infringement" after he used the symbol (as well as various portmanteaus of "Wal-", such as "Walocaust"). The District Court found in favor of the parodist when in March 2008, the judge concluded that [Wal-Mart's] smiley face [logo] was not shown to be "inherently distinctive" and that it "has failed to establish that the smiley face has acquired secondary meaning or that it is otherwise a protectible trademark" under U.S. law.[33]

In 1997, Franklin Loufrani and Smiley World attempted to acquire trademark rights to the symbol (and even to the word "smiley" itself) in the United States. This brought Loufrani into conflict with Wal-Mart, which had begun prominently featuring a happy face in its "Rolling Back Prices" campaign over a year earlier. Wal-Mart responded first by trying to block Loufrani's application, then later by trying to register the smiley face itself; Loufrani in turn sued to stop Wal-Mart's application, and in 2002 the issue went to court,[30] where it would languish for seven years before a decision.

The rights to the Smiley trademark in one hundred countries are owned by the Smiley Company.[26] Its subsidiary SmileyWorld Ltd, in London, headed by Nicolas Loufrani, creates or approves all the Smiley products sold throughout the world. The Smiley brand and logo have significant exposure through licensees in sectors such as clothing, home decoration, perfumery, plush, stationery, publishing, and through promotional campaigns.[27] The Smiley Company is one of the 100 biggest licensing companies in the world, with a turnover of US$167 million in 2012.[28] The first Smiley shop opened in London in the Boxpark shopping centre in December 2011.[29]

Licensing and legal issues

In 2001 Smiley Company started licensing the rights for Loufrani's graphic emoticons to be used for cellular phone emoticon downloads by a variety of different telecommunication companies including Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, SFR (Vodafone) and Sky Telemedia.

In 2000 the Emoticon Directory created by Loufrani was made available for users to download for cellular phones on the internet through which compiled over 1000 smiley graphic emoticons and their ascii versions. This same directory was then published in 2002 in a book by Marabout called Dico Smileys.[25]

In 1997 Nicolas Loufrani [21] recognized the growth in use of ascii emoticons within mobile technology and he started experimenting with animated Smiley faces,[22] with the intention of creating colourful icons that corresponded to the pre-existing ascii emoticons made of plain punctuation marks, to enhance them for a more interactive use in digital. From this Loufrani compiled an online Emoticon Dictionary [23] that was sorted into separate categories - Classics, Moods expressions, Flags, Celebrations, Fun, Sports, Weather, Animals, Food, Nations, Occupations, Planets, Zodiac, Babies and these designs were first registered in 1997 at The United States Copyright Office and then these icons were posted as .gif files on the Web in 1998, becoming the first ever graphical emoticons used in technology.[24]

Transforming Smiley into graphical emoticons

Unicode smiley characters :
U+263A Alt+1 White Smiling Face
U+263B Alt+2 Black Smiling Face
Unicode also contains the "sad" face:
U+2639 White Frowning Face

The smiley is the printable version of characters 1 and 2 of (black-and-white versions of) codepage 437 (1981) of the first IBM PC and all subsequent PC compatible computers. For modern computers, all versions of Microsoft Windows after Windows 95[18] can use the smiley as part of Windows Glyph List 4, although some computer fonts miss some characters, and some characters cannot be reproduced by programs not compatible with Unicode.[19] It also appears in Unicode's Basic Multilingual Plane.[20]

One of the first uses of the smiley in text may have been in Robert Herrick's poem To Fortune (1648),[15] which contains the line "Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)". Journalist Levi Stahl has suggested that this may have been an intentional "orthographic joke", but this interpretation of the punctuation is disputed, and there are citations of similar punctuation in a non-humorous context, even within Herrick's own work.[16] It is likely that the parenthesis was added later by modern editors.[17]

On the Internet, the smiley has become a visual means of conveyance that uses images. On September 19, 1982, Scott Fahlman from Carnegie Mellon University first proposed using the emoticon :-) to mark jokes from serious posts in online message boards.[12][13] There is no history of the smiley/emoticons occurring prior to this on what would become the Internet. Fahlman stated “I propose that [sic] 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: :-(.” This suggestion took a symbol used predominantly marketing and it “became an integral part of online communication, if not always a welcome one. These "smileys," as they came to be known, were effectively the first online irony marks.” As the digital age evolved the need for smileys that were easily understood across all cultures gave birth to the emoji.[14]

In text

In the UK, the happy face has been associated with psychedelic culture since Ubi Dwyer and the Windsor Free Festival in the 1970s and the electronic dance music culture, particularly with acid house, that emerged during the Second Summer of Love in the late 1980s. The association was cemented when the band Bomb the Bass used an extracted smiley from Watchmen on the centre of its Beat Dis hit single.

In 1972 Frenchman Franklin Loufrani became the first person to legally trademark the smiley face. He used it to highlight the good news parts of the newspaper France Soir. He simply called the design "Smiley" and launched the Smiley Company. In 1996 Loufrani's son Nicolas took over the family business and transformed it into a huge multinational corporation. Nicolas Loufrani was outwardly skeptical of Harvey Ball's claim to creating the first smiley face. After all, the design that his father came up with and Ball's design were nearly identical. Loufrani argued that the design is so simple that no one person can lay claim to having created it. As evidence for this, Loufrani's website points to early cave paintings found in France (2500 BC) that he claims are the first depictions of a smiley face. Loufrani also points to a 1960 radio ad campaign that reportedly made use of a similar design.[11]

The graphic was further popularized in the early 1970s by Philadelphia brothers Bernard and Murray Spain, who seized upon it in September 1970 in a campaign to sell novelty items. The two produced buttons as well as coffee mugs, t-shirts, bumper stickers and many other items emblazoned with the symbol and the phrase "Have a happy day" (devised by Gyula Bogar),[9] which mutated into "have a nice day". Working with New York button manufacturer NG Slater, some 50 million happy face badges were produced by 1972.[10]


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