An emoticon (, i-MOHT-i-kon, rarely pronounced ) is a pictorial representation of a facial expression using characters—usually punctuation marks, numbers, and letters—to express a person's feelings or mood, or as a time-saving method. The first ASCII emoticons, :-) and :-(, were written by Scott Fahlman in 1982, but emoticons actually originated on the PLATO IV computer system in 1972. In Western countries, emoticons are usually written at a right angle to the direction of the text. Users from Japan popularized a kind of emoticon called kaomoji (顔文字; lit. 顔(kao)=face, 文字(moji)=character(s)) that can be understood without tilting one's head to the left. This style arose on ASCII NET of Japan in 1986. As SMS and the internet became widespread in the late 1990s, emoticons became increasingly popular and were commonly used on text messages, internet forums and e-mails. Emoticons have played a significant role in communication through technology, and some devices and applications have provided stylized pictures that do not use text punctuation. They offer another range of "tone" and feeling through texting that portrays specific emotions through facial gestures while in the midst of text-based cyber communication.
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