Is This The World's Oldest Emoticon?

Is This The World's Oldest Emoticon?

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Hot on the heels of the world's oldest Lolcat comes the discovery of what may very well be the world's oldest emoticon, contained in a New York Times transcript of an 1862 speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

A team from Proquest, a digital archiving company, found the possible emoticon while creating a student version of historical newspapers for an American history curriculum. Dated from August 7, 1862, an article entitled NEWS FROM WASHINGTON.; A Great War Meeting Held at the Capitol. Important Speech of President Lincoln contained the line, "... there is no precedent for your being here yourselves, (applause and laughter ;) and I offer, in justification of myself and you, that I have found nothing in the Constitution against."

Bryan Benilous of Proquest said the people who discovered the ";)" after the word "laughter" believe it was an emoticon, but not everyone agrees. Carnegie Mellon University Professor Scott E. Fahlman, the man widely credited with popularizing (or even inventing) the modern internet emoticon, is doubtful. "It looks to me like a typo," he said. "I can't imagine an editor putting that in and meaning, 'Ha ha,' trying to emphasize what Lincoln had said. That goes beyond the bounds of editorial comment in a piece of reporting like this."

But the speech predates Linotype machines by roughly 20 years, noted Vincent Golden of the American Antiquity Society, meaning that whoever printed the transcription would have to set the characters piece by piece in a very slow and deliberate process. "The typesetter would have had to pick up the semicolon and set it in the line then pick up the closed bracket and set it next," he said. "My gut feeling is it wasn't a typo."

Other errors in the text seem to reinforce the opinion that it was a simple mistake, but as Jennifer 8. Lee of the New York Times points out, the "overwhelming majority" of audience reaction entries are contained in square brackets, such as "[Applause.]" and "[Applause and Music]," while this one makes uses of parentheses, necessary for a proper smiley. Even Professor Fahlman admitted that it was the "one bit of evidence that says it's more than a typo."

And while some remain unconvinced, Benilous said the confluence of mistakes that were required to form the winking smiley have led him to believe that this is, in fact, the world's oldest emoticon. "Ultimately, it is not just one typo but multiple typos that makes it more than a coincidence (spacing before and after, transposition, parenthesis as opposed to bracket)," he wrote. "Considering this was all done by hand, it seems to be more intentional as opposed to a slip up typing or Microsoft Word autocorrect making the error."

via: Boing Boing

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Oh lord. Soon we're going to discover that 4chan is actually an ancient organization dedicated to fighting the war against serious business in all things, not just the internet.

I love how they cannot consider it to be both. From the looks of the surrounding text it does appear to be a typo or at the least intended semi-colon because of the other examples in [Renewed applause.]. This typo also created the world's oldest emoticon by proxy, the reason we are calling it that is because people who utilize the internet are more text reliant in their day to day life and with the "rush" of being able to explain our moods is when emoticons were made.

These people are arguing so they can just be right when they both are.

Mstrswrd:
Oh lord. Soon we're going to discover that 4chan is actually an ancient organization dedicated to fighting the war against serious business in all things, not just the internet.

duh, duh, duuuuuuuuuh!!

Mstrswrd:
Oh lord. Soon we're going to discover that 4chan is actually an ancient organization dedicated to fighting the war against serious business in all things, not just the internet.

Use spoiler boxes, bitch! I'm not to that chapter yet!
Christ alfuckingmighty!

That is just awesome, and we'll never know the creator's true intention.

Mstrswrd:
Oh lord. Soon we're going to discover that 4chan is actually an ancient organization dedicated to fighting the war against serious business in all things, not just the internet.

Round up the b/tards we've got a snitch.

Mstrswrd:
Oh lord. Soon we're going to discover that 4chan is actually an ancient organization dedicated to fighting the war against serious business in all things, not just the internet.

So what was the Escapist? A hunting club?

The ; just seems like C++ Programming, but since that didn't exist back then....I'd say typo.

Wouldukindly:

So what was the Escapist? A hunting club?

The hunting club.

zoozilla:

Wouldukindly:

So what was the Escapist? A hunting club?

The hunting club.

For the deadliest game of all? You know the one's I'm talking about.

*Shows Escapist Hunting Club, circa 1850, in the woods of New England with rifles*
Escapist #1: Release the Ball-in-cup fanboys! *opens cage, people run out*

The Illuminati were probably using emoticons long before the Templars were.

Let's see. Semi-colons are used as a pause when read out. So if I said:

"He went into the bar; it was empty" you'd read it "He went into the bar" - pause - "it was empty".

So in a speech, the semi-colon there indicates the pause. I mean, it's a transcript, and to my untrained eye it indicates that the president was interrupted in mid-speech by applause, but continued after a pause.

I suppose the real story here is that someone doesn't know just how and when the emoticon came around. Which really is sad.

domicius:
Let's see. Semi-colons are used as a pause when read out. So if I said:

"He went into the bar; it was empty" you'd read it "He went into the bar" - pause - "it was empty".

So in a speech, the semi-colon there indicates the pause. I mean, it's a transcript, and to my untrained eye it indicates that the president was interrupted in mid-speech by applause, but continued after a pause.

I suppose the real story here is that someone doesn't know just how and when the emoticon came around. Which really is sad.

What's a emoticon?

Neat.

anmolngm:

domicius:
Let's see. Semi-colons are used as a pause when read out. So if I said:

"He went into the bar; it was empty" you'd read it "He went into the bar" - pause - "it was empty".

So in a speech, the semi-colon there indicates the pause. I mean, it's a transcript, and to my untrained eye it indicates that the president was interrupted in mid-speech by applause, but continued after a pause.

I suppose the real story here is that someone doesn't know just how and when the emoticon came around. Which really is sad.

What's a emoticon?

It's the new race that will appear in the upcoming Transformers 2 movie. You heard it here first!

I'm going with typo, but the typo is the space between the word and the semicolon. The typesetter was in a rush and didn't push the semicolon up against the "laughter", or the printing machine bumped the semicolon away from the word.

"Obviously", if it was an emoticon, he would still need to close his opening parenthesis.

Why did he use parentheses there and brackets elsewhere? Maybe he only had one set of parentheses. Or maybe he just had a bin of parentheses and brackets and happened to pull out parentheses at that point.

To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a semicolon and a parenthesis is just punctuation. :P

Mstrswrd:
Oh lord. Soon we're going to discover that 4chan is actually an ancient organization dedicated to fighting the war against serious business in all things, not just the internet.

that just sent a shiver down my spine

 

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