Believe it or not: World’s first emoji was drawn by a lawyer 382 ago

If you thought that emoji came with computers and smartphones, you are mistaken. Emojis have existed for years, however, the oldest emoji in existence was discovered recently. Researchers from the National Archives in Trencin, Slovakia claimed to found what they believe is the world’s oldest original emoji drawn by a lawyer called Jan Ladislaides – a 382-year-old smiley face.

Believe it or not: World's first emoji was drawn by a lawyer 382 ago

Head of the archive in Trencin Peter Brindza in Slovakia said: “We found a smiley face, which dates from the 17th century – from 1635 – by notary Jan Ladislaides next to his signature.”

Drawn in a legal document dating back to 1635, Ladislaides had signed his go-ahead on the municipal account documents by drawing a small circle with two dots and a line – an image recognized today as a smiley-face emoji. Although the drawing could also be interpreted as a straight-face expression, the picture follows a passage that states the lawyer had no problems with the accounts, Brindza was quoted as saying by the ‘New York Post’. There also appears to be a clown’s finger with a hashtag drawn on it, but the archivists are unsure of its context.

Believe it or not: World's first emoji was drawn by a lawyer 382 ago

“I do not know if it’s the oldest Slovakian smiley or the world’s oldest. But it is certainly one of the oldest in the Trencin region,” said Brindza.

The previous oldest smiley is commonly acknowledged to have come from the poem, “To Fortune” by Robert Herrick, from England in 1648. This new discovery beats that by 13 years.

The first set of digital emojis was created by the Japanese engineers in 1999, and the word “emoji” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013.

It has been a long time since Ladislaides drew a smiley-face emoji in his memo. Little must he have known that the simple emoji that he drew would one day be an eternal part of our day to day life. To put things in perspective, an estimated 6 billion emojis are sent throughout the world every day. Ladislaides must be smiling in his grave.