How Emojis Were Sold to the Masses and Helped Shape Digital Communication
Posted on 28th Dec 2020 16:07:28 in General, Apple, Selling

A picture used to be worth a thousand words. Now it’s worth one emoji. 

From the way we communicate to the way we dress, emojis have significantly changed how we live in the digital world. 

So what exactly are emojis, and how did they become the modern universal language? 

The History of the Emoji

Before people could add character to their messages with high-spirited smilies and rainbow hearts, they had to use a sequence of colons, dashes, and parentheses, also known as emoticons :-). 

It was not until the late 90s that the option to use animations in messages became available. 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the animation known as the emoji is defined as a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion. 

The world’s first set of emojis is said to be discovered by Interface designer Shigetaka Kurita in Japan on November 1, 1997. It was exclusively available on the SoftBank, JPhone at the time, SkyWalker DP-211SW.

With 90 emojis to choose from, there’s not one single smiley face. But, some of the most iconic emojis that would later inspire Apple was born. The smiling poop, the cup of coffee, the surfer- all introduced in 1997. 

Unlike today’s colorful emojis, the first set was black and white images with little detail. Kurita added color and expanded the collection in February 1999 with the creation of 176 emojis for the release of Japanese phone operator  NTT DoCoMo’s mobile internet service “i-mode.” 

Staying true to today’s use of emojis, Kurita needed to find a way for people to communicate effectively with i-mode’s 250 character limit. With his 176 emojis, people were able to express themselves without being limited. 

Even though this set of emojis wasn’t the first on the market, it was the first to become a global sensation.


In regards to global sensations, Apple released its first set of emojis in Japan in 2008. Apple emojis became worldwide in 2011. 

Emojis became even more significant in the way we communicate in 2010 when standardized by Unicode 6.0. Companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook could create their versions of emojis that interpreted well between platforms. A smiley face on a Google device translated to a smiley face on an Apple device. 

Emojis Become a Universal Language

With emojis in full use by the 2010s, it became a language that almost anyone could be a part of. In a way, emojis helped unite. 

  • 😊- Happy 

  • ☹️- Sad 

  • 😡- Mad 

  • 🤢- Sick 

  • ❤️- Love 

  • 👨‍👩‍👦- Family 

Even though these emojis are as basic as they get, they do a great job of conveying emotions, telling a story, and helping people communicate with one another. Whether you are in your hometown or living overseas, the basic use of emojis can help you get your message across. 

So why exactly are emojis understood on a global scale? It is because humans are highly visual creatures. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, humans rely heavily on visual cues for basic adaptive behaviors such as finding food, partners, and shelter. Humans are also known to process information better when presented as a visual. 

All of this is to say that a collection of emojis is easier to understand more than a string of words, especially when there is a language barrier or misunderstanding. 

The Great  Pop Culture Blow Up 

There was a time when emojis were featured on everything and anything- Food, clothes, toys, celebrity apps. 

(Photo was taken from Pinterest)

People wore them head-to-toe. Emoji clothing rose to popularity in 2015 and the trend lasted until about 2018. 

(Photo was taken from Amazon)

People enjoyed them as a tasty treat. Emoji-themed candy could be found in any convenience store or supermarket. 

(Photo was taken from Wikipedia) 

People watched them in theatres. The Emoji Movie, which came out in 2017, only has a 7 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

(Photo was taken from TV Guide)

People guessed them in gameshows. The gameshow Emogenius first broadcasted in June 2017 and lasted until November 2018. 


(Screenshot from the Kimoji App) 

People purchased them from their favorite celebrities. Kim Kardashian West launched her series of emojis in 2015, which caused many celebrities to follow. 

(Photo was taken from YAYOMG) 

People read them as timeless classics. These books are still being published today and read by many teens. 

The list of where emojis ended up in the 2010s is endless. Eventually, emojis’ consistent rise to popularity allowed them to turn into a serious communication tool rather than just a cheesy gimmick. 

The President of the United States uses emojis in his Tweets. Brands such as Taco Bell, Sephora, and World Wide Fund of Nature use emojis in their ad campaigns. Professionals use emojis in their emails to convey emotion. 

Today’s Updates 

With Apple’s iOS 14 update came new emojis. 

According to Emojiprdia, 117 new emojis were released in 2020, bringing the total to 3,136 across different platforms. 

The new release features emojis such as a mother holding her baby, an emoji face wearing a pair of glasses, and a seal. 

Apple has been praised for its inclusivity and detail throughout the years with each update. The new set of emojis also features an anatomic heart and lungs, as well as the transgender flag and a hand motion with a variety of skin tones. 

To use these new emojis, you will have to update your device. If you have an iPhone 6s or newer, you are in luck. 

If you currently own a later model phone and are tired of seeing [?] symbol replace emojis, upgrade your phone with Tech Reboot.  

At Tech Reboot, you can sell your old phone and get the most money back no matter the condition, as well as buy a newer one for an affordable price. 


Tech Reboot is located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. There is nothing to worry about if you are not in the area because of the device service’s quick and simple shipping process. 

All you have to do is answer a series of questions about the device you want to sell, send out your device with the shipping label emailed to you, and receive your payment within days.

Photo Credit: Domingo Alvarez Via