Background info on the smiley face


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The design is so simple that it is certain that similar versions were produced before , including those cited above. Stern, the man behind this campaign, also later incorporated the Happy Face in his run for Seattle mayor in The graphic was further popularized in the early s by Philadelphia brothers Bernard and Murray Spain, who seized upon it in September 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", which mutated into " Have a nice day ". Working with New York button manufacturer NG Slater, some 50 million happy face badges were produced by In , Frenchman Franklin Loufrani became the first person to legally trademark use of a 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 Loufrani's son Nicolas Loufrani took over the family business and built it into a multinational corporation. Nicolas Loufrani was outwardly skeptical of Harvey Ball's claim to creating the first smiley face. While noting that 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 BC that he claims are the first depictions of a smiley face.

Loufrani also points to a radio ad campaign that reportedly made use of a similar design. In the UK, the happy face has been associated with psychedelic culture since Ubi Dwyer and the Windsor Free Festival in the s and the electronic dance music culture, particularly with acid house , that emerged during the Second Summer of Love in the late s. The association was cemented when the band Bomb the Bass used an extracted smiley from Watchmen on the center of its " Beat Dis " hit single.

The earliest known smiley-like image in a written document was drawn by a Slovak notary to indicate his satisfaction with the state of his town's municipal financial records in Journalist Levi Stahl has suggested that this may have been an intentional "orthographic joke", while this occurrence is likely merely the colon placed inside parentheses rather than outside of them as is standard typographic practice today -- smiling yet :. There are citations of similar punctuation in a non-humorous context, even within Herrick's own work.

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On the Internet , the smiley has become a visual means of conveyance that uses images. 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. Yellow graphical smileys have been used for many different purposes, including use in early s video games. Messenger from used smiley symbols in the user list next to each user, and also as an icon for the application.

In November , and later, smiley emojis inside the actual chat text was adopted by several chat systems, including Yahoo Messenger. The smiley is the printable version of characters 1 and 2 of black-and-white versions of codepage of the first IBM PC and all subsequent PC compatible computers. For modern computers, all versions of Microsoft Windows after Windows 95 [23] can use the smiley as part of Windows Glyph List 4 , although some computer fonts miss some characters.

The smiley face was included in Unicode 's Miscellaneous Symbols from version 1. Later additions to Unicode included a large number of variants expressing a range of human emotions, in particlar with the addition of the " Emoticons " and " Supplemental Symbols and Pictographs blocks in Unicode versions 6. These were introduced for compatibility with the ad-hoc implementation of emoticons by Japanese telephone carriers in unused ranges of the Shift JIS standard.

A Brief History of the Smiley Face, Rave Culture's Most Ubiquitous Symbol - VICE

This resulted in a de-facto standard in the range with lead bytes 0xF5 to 0xF9. The rights to the Smiley trademark in one hundred countries are owned by the Smiley Company. In , 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 after the issue went to court, [33] where it would languish for seven years before a decision. Wal-Mart began phasing out the smiley face on its vests [34] and its website [35] in 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".


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The District Court found in favor of the parodist when in March , 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 protectable trademark" under U. In June , Wal-Mart and the Smiley Company founded by Loufrani settled their year-old dispute in front of the Chicago federal court.

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The terms remain confidential. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 3 November Stylized representation of a smiling humanoid face. For other uses of "Smiley", see Smiley disambiguation. For other uses, see Smiley Face disambiguation. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Main article: Emoticon. Retrieved October 5, Retrieved May 1, The Times of Israel. There was an eruption of Smiley ephemera: coffee mugs, tea trays, stationery, earrings, keyrings, bumper stickers, bracelets etc.

The staying power of the smiley face

The fad hit the posts mood: a traumatised American public turning to visual soma in order to forget the war in Vietnam and presidential meltdown. The Smiley was the perfect feelgood symbol of a moment when s ideas of freedom, hedonism and experimentation hit the American masses. The fad was so mainstream that it bypassed the iconography of post-hippy rock, which, still remaining in thrall to counter-cultural ideas, ignored such mass pablum.

It did hit the comics, though. In May , Mad magazine published a Smiley cover — with the distinctive facial features of Alfred E Neuman contained in one of those yellow circles. This was prescient. The Smiley presented such a fixed facade of childlike contentment that it was ripe for subversion. Evil was rendered even more sinister by this blank, expressionless face, a trigger horror image like a girl's doll with a broken eye, a prom queen remember Carrie? This continued in the late s.

If there was one thing that punk railed against, it was false consciousness. The Smiley was an icon worth mutilating, and the cover for the UK inch of the Talking Heads' Psycho Killer picked up on the Taxi Driver vibe that would later inform Watchmen with an image of a distorted Smiley on the putative killer's T-shirt. Behind the podium were large red, white and black banners: in place of swastikas were large Smileys.


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  • Written during and published in , Watchmen used the Smiley as a visual metaphor for a narrative that examines guilt, failure, megalomania and compromise with a corrupt power structure. All is not well beneath the idealised superhero surface, as the novel spirals into an existential crisis of betrayal, mass extinction, the transience of human existence.

    The Smiley is worn by the most corrupt and violent superhero, The Comedian. It even travels to Mars, when Jon and Laurie end up in the midst of a rock formation shaped like a Smiley. Life followed art, as in early February it was reported that an orbiting satellite had spotted a big Smiley drawn on the face of the red planet. Then came the explosion. In February , Bomb The Bass released the first pop reference to Watchmen, using the blood-stained logo on the cover of their hit Beat Dis. In the previous month, Danny Rampling had used the Smiley in a flyer for his club Shoom.

    He'd got the idea from seeing the designer Barnzley at the Wag Club in a shirt covered "in a lot of smiley faces". Embedded into the second "o" in Shoom, the symbol took a few weeks to catch on, but when it did, it swept the country as the logo of acid fashion. As acid house became acieed that year, the Smiley flip-flopped from dream symbol to harbinger of wickedness. Just as the early days of acid were beatific, so the media's initial response to this new youth cult was positive.

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    This changed in the autumn as "smiley culture" was associated with headlines like "Evil Of Ecstasy" and "Shoot These Drug Barons", and the fad quickly subsided. This negative association continued into the early s. Mutations of the symbol were used by Nirvana crossed-out eyes, drooling mouth on their famous "Corporate Rock Whores" T-shirt, as well as in the Fangoria comic Evil Ernie angry eyes, mouth with bared teeth. During the last decade, the Smiley has become an acknowledged part of pop culture history.

    History of the Smiley face

    In the US, it's become a shorthand for the high s, referenced in that great touchstone of modern history, Forrest Gump, where Tom Hanks's mud-spattered T-shirt provides the origin for the design. Quite apart from the Watchmen associations, the Smiley is coming back in the UK as part of acid retro fashion, just in time for the year revival. Coincidental to this, it has also been used as a sinister signature — left at murder sites by a US group called The Smiley Face Gang who, it is alleged, have been responsible for around 40 killings.

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