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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York recently purchased the original set of 176 emoji for its permanent collection. Released in 1999, emoji were originally designed for pagers and made within a grid that’s 12 pixels x 12 pixels in size – positively tiny!

This photo provided by The Museum of Modern Art in New York shows the original set of 176 emojis, which the museum has acquired. The emojis were a gift to the museum from the phone company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. (Shigetaka Kurita/NTT DoCoMo/Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art)

I haven’t a clue what some of these symbols are, but the majority of them are very clear to make out and you can definitely see the inspiration for some of the rather random icons that are very popular now.

It took 12 years for emoji to hit the mass market when iPhone included them on their phones from 2011, creating a whole new way from people to show emotion and communicate via mobile technology and social media.

smiley-face-original-emoji cocktail-emoji-original mobile-emoji-original

The set will join MoMA’s collection of ‘humble masterpieces’, alongside the Post-it Note and the Bic biro, from December. There has been murmers of unhappiness that 'normal' things like this are included in exhibitions, but it does highlight how subjective 'art' is to people.

Can you imagine messaging nowadays without using any emoji at all? Many people would struggle, that’s for sure!

Thanks to NTT DOCOMO. & MoMA for the use of images.

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