Emojis are lifesavers. When someone you don’t really know messages you a whole lot of stuff that you don’t really care about, emojis are the perfect reply. You just have to choose the face with the most appropriate response to whatever it is that acquaintance sent you, and voila! You’ve responded in a caring, thoughtful way without actually caring or thinking about what they said.

How I feel when someone makes yet another "Oppa Gangnam Style" joke in 2017. Credit: Kirk Yuhnke

How I feel when someone makes yet another “Oppa Gangnam Style” joke in 2017. Credit: Kirk Yuhnke

But where did this live-saving form of communication from? What is its origin story? Could we one day, email in emojis?

Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about emojis. After our Emoji 101 course, you’ll be the next Jeremy Burge (world’s leading expert on emoji), and you might even have your own Wikipedia page!

1⃣. Emojis originated from Japanese mobile phones in 1999

The very first emoji. Credit: Proc No More Facebook Page

The very first emoji. Credit: Proc No More Facebook Page

Before emoji, we had emoticons 😀 and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  has recently come back into style too. However, actual emojis were actually used by telcos in Japan, like NTT DoCoMo and SoftBank (look out for them when you go to Tokyo! They each created their own sets of emoji, but Shingetaka Kurita is credited with having created the first emoji in 1999 for NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode mobile Internet platform.

As you can see above, they looked like characters from an 8-bit video game. He created a set of 176 emoji which were 12×12 pixels in size. He did a pretty good job given how little space he had to fashion all those shapes!

Can you spot the ancestors of your favourite emoji in the picture above?

 

 

2⃣. The word “emoji” has nothing to do with “emoticon”

絵文字 – emoji

絵文字 is the Japanese phrase for emoji, and if you break it down:

  • e (絵, “picture”)
  • moji (文字, “character”)

It has nothing to do with the words emoticon or emotion, but it certainly is a nice surprise to find out the original meaning of the word “emoji”, isn’t it?

 

3⃣. Emojis look different depending on what phone or computer you’re viewing it from

Japanese food emoji. Credit: GOGO Sushi Express and Grill - Moore Facebook Page

Japanese food emoji. Credit: GOGO Sushi Express and Grill – Moore Facebook Page

Here are some Japanese food emojis. Emojis look different depending on what operating system/browser you’re using to view them, so compare the food emojis below to the illustrated ones in the picture above to see what we mean!

🍱 – Bento Box

🍲 – Nabe

🍥 – Fish Cake

🍢 – Oden

🍣 – Sushi

🍡 – Dango

🍵 – Green Tea

🍙 – Rice Ball

🍶 – Sake

🍘 – Rice Cracker

 

4⃣. World Emoji Day is on 17 July

Save the date: 18 July. Credit: World Emoji Day Facebook Page

Save the date: 17 July. Credit: World Emoji Day Facebook Page

Yes, there is a World Emoji Day. And it is so legit that it even has its own Facebook Page.

You don’t actually have to do anything on World Emoji Day though, since communicating solely through emojis would be difficult. But it’s a fun excuse to take a break and tell your boss you need to celebrate this.

It’s unlikely that it’ll ever become a public holiday in Singapore though, but you could lobby your company’s IT department to push it as a company holiday. After all, we have International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so why not?

 

5⃣. Jeremy Burge is the world’s foremost expert on emoji

Jeremy Burge is considered the global expert on all things emoji, and for good reason. He started Emojipedia and is a member of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee (which means he’s a really awesome tech guy).

What’s Unicode? In layman terms, it’s a sort of universal computer language that almost everything speaks. It’s how you can type a “3” on your phone, and your friend’s computer can understand that you typed “3” and display it.

Jeremy Burge and the members of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee – including president internalisation engineer Mark Davis designs emojis and decides which new ones get added each year.

 

6⃣ In the future, emojis will be used in passwords

This could be an equally effective password. Credit: TouchPal Facebook Page

This could be an equally effective password. Credit: TouchPal Facebook Page

In Britain, you can use emoji as your PIN for banking. A financial startup created the technology to do so, and it’s highly likely it’ll become a part of our future.

There are two big reasons why this would be effective – people remember pictures more easily than they do text, and while there are only 10 digits on a keypad (and 26 letters in the alphabet), there are 2,666 emojis as of June 2017. It’s more difficult for hackers to crack,  but easier for users to remember.

The Emoji Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

The Emoji Movie. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Emojis have become such a pervasive part of our life that the next logical step is that we’d see on big screens as a movie – and that’s exactly what’s happening with The Emoji Movie! This animated comedy shows us the secret life of emojis in the city of – get ready for this – Textopolis. Emojis in the world of Textopolis only have one expression, but a special, mutant emoji named Gene can take on multiple expressions!

Is Gene an X-ManEmoji? Will he have an archnemesis named Magnetomoji? Does the poop emoji actually poop?

The Emoji Movie has all the answers.

 

 

PS: Although we use “emojis” as the plural of “emoji”, you can also use “emoji” as the plural of “emoji”. Here is a very long article explaining that.

 

Credit: Kirk Yuhnke Facebook Page, Proc No More Facebook PageGOGO Sushi Express and Grill – Moore Facebook Page, TouchPal Facebook Page, Golden Village Cinemas