First-ever emojis from 1988 revealed — can you guess where these low-tech symbols came from?

Can you decipher these ancient hieroglyphics?

In the age of hyper-evolving tech, the innovative emojis of today make those of yesteryear — read: 20 to 30 years ago — seem digitally prehistoric.

Whether it’s texting your pals or drafting social media posts, a bevy of incredibly detailed emojis for every occasion are right at our fingertips, from a slice of pepperoni pie to a cheeky eggplant. And, we have been so conditioned to this new-age technology, that attempting to decrypt elementary emoticons is near-impossible — just look at these from 1988.

Game developer and blogger Matt Sephton recently unearthed the computerized relics, the 102 characters appearing on the Japanese device, the PA-85000.

The wide-ranging alphabet of options — from a rabbit or mouse to zodiac signs — appeared to have cropped up en masse in the ’80s, mused Stephen, who “painstakingly” re-drew the PA-85000 emoticons he saw on his screen.

tech, weird but true, emoji, emojis, phones, texting, android, first-ever emojis from 1988 revealed — can you guess where these low-tech symbols came from?
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Some of the outdated emojis from 1988 are particularly difficult to decipher. emojipedia

“These sorts of devices are pre-internet, so there’s not much about them online, and they can’t be emulated, so the only way to find out what they do is to get first hand experience by reading the manual or, better, using one yourself,” he wrote in a recent blog post that detailed the history of the emoji, adding that it’s “difficult to find these devices in working condition.”

But somehow, he did — and was shocked to discover the wealth of symbols and icons available when typing memos. The inclusion of what would have been new-age tech on the ’80s organizers and pagers went against what he previously believed about the inception of the emojis we know and love today.

Citing Emojipedia, Sephton said he “couldn’t quite believe” what he was seeing on the pixelated screens because the “first emoji” was said to be created an unnamed designer at SoftBank in 1997, with the most notable emojis drawn up by the Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita just two years later.

tech, weird but true, emoji, emojis, phones, texting, android, first-ever emojis from 1988 revealed — can you guess where these low-tech symbols came from?
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Personal digital assistant devices such as the Sharp PI-5000 were created before the Internet was widely implemented. hpmuseum

tech, weird but true, emoji, emojis, phones, texting, android, first-ever emojis from 1988 revealed — can you guess where these low-tech symbols came from?
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The “first emoji” was said to be created an unnamed designer at SoftBank in 1997. emojipedia

As you can imagine, even those emoticons at the time were incredibly simple compared to the detailed characters we use now — and they weren’t widely popular outside of Japan until 2010, when Unicode, the nonprofit that mandates the standard for digitized text, approved the addition of emojis to its vast index, per Wired.

Just one year later, Apple included the emoji keyboard on iPhones, with Android trailing behind in 2013, and thus ushered in a new language for communication: through the humble emoji.

tech, weird but true, emoji, emojis, phones, texting, android, first-ever emojis from 1988 revealed — can you guess where these low-tech symbols came from?
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The Sharp PI-4000 personal digital assistant device included preloaded pixel emojis. twitter/gingerbeardman

“Personally, I define the start date of emoji as the point in time when sets of these symbols first appeared for use whilst composing text,” Sephton wrote.

“I don’t think the timeline should start at mobile phones, as this feels like a somewhat arbitrary decision that dismisses a lot of history.”

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