It's hard to remember a time when emoticons weren't part of our typed vernacular. Those rascally graphics, which have been a boon to the chiropractic industry, exploded on the chat scene with a simple sideways smile.

But where did it come from? What are its origins? Did emoticons just naturally develop with our zeitgeist in all pockets of the Internet simultaneously? Sorta like cave drawings thousands of year before?

According to Scott Fahlman, who claims to have first used an emoticon in September, 1982 on a Carnegie Mellon University bulletin board system, he, and some others at the school, were having trouble expressing their emotions in type. Often, sarcasm would be misinterpreted, which sometimes caused serious problems (as any of us who've written emails to our in-laws can attest).

As Fahlman says on his website:

It occurred to me that the character sequence ":-)" would be an elegant solution "“ one that could be handled by the ASCII-based computer terminals of the day. So I suggested that. In the same post, I also suggested the use of ":-(" to indicate that a message was meant to be taken seriously, though that symbol quickly evolved into a marker for displeasure, frustration, or anger.

That problem solved, what about expressing our emotions when driving? A honk of the horn can only say so much, after all. Well, in the great tradition of baby-on-board signs, we now have the Driv-e-mocion: easily mounted in your rear window and controllable via wireless remote.

Ahh, what will they smile upon next?