KEY POINTS

  • People across the globe are celebrating the World Emoji Day
  • Shigetaka Kurita is known as the father of emoji
  • Claims, however, surfaced that a set of emoji was released in 1997 by SoftBank
  • This release predates the ones released by DoCoMo in 1999
  • The designer of the 90 emojis from SoftBank is still unknown

Happy World Emoji Day!

Thanks to Shigetaka Kurita, the world is celebrating World Emoji Day today. But did he create the world’s first emoji?

Emojis have been included in most of what society now calls “millennial conversation.” Kurita, a Japanese graphic designer, was said to be the father of the world’s first emoji.

Kurita was with NTT DoCoMo, a mobile phone operator company when he designed the emoji back in 1999. Since then, the Japan-based mobile company has been widely credit as the originator of the emoji.

A blog about the origin of emoji surfaced in March 2019. The said journal weblog claimed the existence of 90 emojis predating the 176 ones released by DoCoMo in 1999.

The write-up revealed that SoftBank, a carrier that partnered with Apple to bring its flagship iPhones to Japan in 2008, released a phone supporting the said 90 emojis in 1997. It further claimed that the most popular emoji, encoded as U=1F4A9 PILE OF POO in the Unicode Standard, originated in the 1997 release.

poop emoji Donating poop could earn you $13,000 a year. In this photo, a boy holds a poo emoticon balloon as he joins his parents protesting outside Breitbart News office in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California, March 12, 2017. Photo: Getty Images / Robyn Beck

Whoever designed the emojis back in 1997 is still unknown, according to the blog. Hence, it invoked to set the record straight that unless there was evidence supporting that DoCoMo had an emoji set released before the 1997 release, the original emoji set released in Japan belonged to SoftBank with the designer unknown.

Kurita was born in Gifu Prefecture on May 9, 1972. He was 25 when he created the first set of emojis in one month, rushing to meet a deadline, The Star reported.

The purpose of Kurita’s emoji was to ease the communication on the mobile internet system of NTT DoCoMo, CNN reported. This type of messaging was only budding at that time.

DoCoMo’s email was restricted to 250 characters and Kurita’s emojis were reportedly intended to say more in a limited space. Emoji came from the Japanese words “e” for pictures and “moji” for characters or letters.

Of all the dates, why celebrate July 17 as the World Emoji Day? The significance to the date was not clear but Jeremy Burge, Emojipedia founder saw this date on Apple’s calendar emoji, Telangana Today reported.