Different smiley face graphics include the first versions used in movies in the late 1940s and 1950s, the graphic printed on promotional sweatshirts in 1962, the popular version designed in 1963 and the copyrighted graphic from 1971. The earliest record of the smiley face used as an emoticon or computer graphic appears to be in 1982 when Scott Fahlman from Carnegie Mellon University proposed its adoption as the universal method for denoting jokes posted on message boards.
A precursor to the modern smiley face appears the 1948 movie “Port of Call,” starring Ingrid Bergman, in which a character uses lipstick to draw a frowning smiley face with a nose on a mirror. Then, the 1953 movie “Lili” starring Leslie Caron used the smiley face graphic in promotional posters distributed to theaters, as did the 1956 movie “Gigi."
New York radio station WMCA sponsored a promotion in 1962 which involved the smiley face graphic. Listeners who answered the phone “WMAC Good Guys” when the station called received a yellow sweatshirt featuring a version of the smiley face that had a crudely drawn smile and a tuft of hair.
In 1963, Harvey Ross Ball, a graphic artist for the State Mutual Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts, created the modern smiley face to boost employee morale. Ball’s graphic featured the curved smile with creases at each end of the smile. Ball received $45 for his design. In 1971, Bernard and Murray Spain added the words ”Have Happy Day” and launched the smiley face craze by incorporating the graphic on novelty items such as buttons, T-shirts, bumper stickers and beach towels.