Who REALLY invented the Smilies (the Smiley face)

Due to the article in the NY Times, yesterday, this subject has again become current.

In an archived column here at

various people claimed credit for themselves or others for inventing the smiley face some time during the last several decades.

Such claims are ridiculous. Using a circle with two dots for eyes and a curved line for a smile is as old as mankind. Coloring it yellow is one of only a few available choices of primary color. You don’t “invent” something like this. At most, you re-start a fad.

I say RE-start because the first one seems to have been at least 30,000 years ago.

Some years ago, there was a big traveling exhibit of ice age art that I saw at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Millions of other people saw it as well. The artworks were arranged chronologically, with the oldest stuff last. As I traveled back in time, I eventually reached a case with the oldest objects in the show, which were dated at about 30,000 years ago, and there, on a shelf, was a small disk-shaped rock inscribed by some hairy grunting ancient marketer with, you guessed it, a smiley face!


And in that article we find this quote:

Kind of undercuts your umbrage, doesn’t it?

In any legal dispute (and this is a dispute under US trademark law), it takes at least two to tango. In this case, the other major party is Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart is not conceding that the smiley precedes their use of it in their business (as far as I know).

This is true. It is also true that it has absolutely nothing to do with the post of mine you quoted. That post was about the OP using the ancient origins of the smiley as a stick with which to beat the claimant who makes the very same point in the article he quoted. He’s accusing him of not knowing something he explicitly says.

What this has to do with what you posted is beyond me.