Long before iMessage started accounting for 90% of our human interactions, the world’s greatest minds were trying to form a language without words–a language that would capture the variety and depth of human emotions, pure and unfettered by linguistic complications of syntax and double-entendre.
Today, we have the moon face emoji. So clearly, they eventually succeeded.
In the 19th century, a scientist electrocuted volunteers–a treatment he believed unmasked the true essence of humanity–and took photographs of their faces in the throes of electrocution, in order to compile a “dictionary of human expression.” We’ve come a long way since then.
But that’s just the backstory. Emojis in the sense we think of now didn’t emerge until the late ’90s in Japan. VICE explores the origins of the emoji in tonight’s episode of VICE News Tonight on HBO, including an interview with the inventor of the original emoji. Check it out: