Happy Emoji Day!

The Internet has changed the way we communicate. One of its outstanding aspects is the use of emojis. They became so popular that on July 17th, we celebrate “World Emoji Day.” Emoticons e emojis are now considered to be a large part of popular culture worldwide.

Here at Elumina, we love emoticons and emojis. Therefore, we’d like to pay tribute to this form of direct and fun communication.

The difference between emoji and emoticon

Even today, we use a lot of text messages and emails in our online communication. Nevertheless, in the early days, they were the only medium.

Because body language and verbal tone do not translate into our text messages, we have developed alternative ways to convey a nuanced meaning. That’s the main reason for the creation of emoticons and emoji.

First, Emoticons

The emoticon is the oldest of the two. Emoticons are punctuation marks, letters, and numbers used to create pictorial icons that usually display emotion or feeling. No wonder we use the word emoticon: emotion icon.

The emoticon came about after a big misunderstanding on an online message board at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. Because of the confusion, Dr. Scott E. Fahlman suggested that jokes and not jokes should be marked by two sets of characters.

We now recognize these characters as standard emoticons: the smiling face “:-)” and the frowning face “:-(” After that, the emoticons became a big hit among Internet users.

Later, Emojis

On the other hand, emoji (from Japanese “e” meaning “image,” and “moji,” “character”) are a slightly more recent invention. Emojis are pictograms of faces, objects, and symbols. 

Shigetaka Kurita created the first emoji between 1998 and 1999 in Japan, for the mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo. He was responsible for the development of i-mode, a mobile Internet platform.

The first set of 172 pictograms was created as part of the i-mode messaging features to facilitate electronic communication and function as a distinctive feature of other services.

This first set was elementary – only 12 pixels by 12 pixels – and were inspired by manga art and kanji characters. 

First Emoji Set
Shigetaka Kurita first set

The usage of emoji exploded in 2007. To attract Japanese customers, Apple consequently developed an emoji keyboard on the first iPhone in 2007. But, users in many different countries quickly became aware of the keyboard, putting them into use globally. 

Emoji are now available in every messaging app. While different apps have different emoji styles, emoji can translate across platforms thanks to Unicode. That’s why an iPhone user can receive the smiling emoji from someone using a Samsung Galaxy.

So if you find a smiling face that contains a character you can find on your computer keyboard, it’s an emoticon. If it’s a small cartoon figure that’s free of punctuation links, numbers, and letters, it’s an emoji.

Emoji fun facts

In 1997, the entrepreneur Nicolas Loufrani created an online Emoticon Dictionary, later published as .gif files on the Internet.

The first set created by Shigetaka Kurita is part of MoMA’s collection.

There’s an emoji online encyclopedia.


The 3 most popular emoji are: Face with Tears of Joy, Red Heart, and Heart Eyes. The Oxford dictionary selected the “Face With Tears of Joy” as “word of the year” in 2015.

In conclusion, don’t forget to save the date; July 17th is World Emoji Day. Above all, celebrate the little things!