Scott Fahlman

From Academic Kids

Scott Fahlman (born March 21, 1948, in Medina, Ohio, USA) is a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. He is notable for early work on Automated Planning in a blocks world, on semantic networks, on neural networks (and, in particular, the cascade correlation algorithm) and on Common Lisp (in particular CMU Common Lisp).

In addition, he is credited with originating the first "smiley" or "emoticon," which he thought would help people on a message board at CMU to distinguish serious posts from jokes. He proposed the use of :-) and :-( for this purpose, and the symbols caught on. The original message board post from which these symbols originated was posted on September 19, 1982. It was retrieved in 2002 by a team of computer specialists seeking to validate the claim, which is still disputed.

This was the message:

19-Sep-82 11:44    Scott E  Fahlman             :-)
From: Scott E  Fahlman 

I propose that 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.  For this, use

:-(

In 1993, writer Neal Stephenson published an opinion piece in The New Republic titled Smiley's people which argued against the use of emoticons. He has since abandoned that position.

Fahlman received his bachelor's degree and master's degree in 1973 from MIT, and his Ph.D. from MIT in 1977. He is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

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