A smiley, sometimes referred to as a smiley face, is a basic ideogram that represents a smiling face. Since the 1950s it has become part of popular culture worldwide, used either as a standalone ideogram, or as a form of communication, such as emoticons. The smiley began as two dots and a line to represent eyes and a mouth. More elaborate designs in the 1950s emerged, with noses, eyebrows, and outlines. A yellow and black design was used by the radio station, WMCA for its "Good Guys" campaign in the early 1960s. More yellow and black designs appeared in the 1960s and 70s including works by Franklin Loufrani and Harvey Ross Ball. Today, The Smiley Company holds many rights to the smiley ideogram and has become one of the biggest licensing companies globally.

In the 1970s Loufrani trademarked the name and his design in France while he was working as a journalist for France Soir. Competing terms were used such as smiling face and happy face before consensus was reached on the term smiley, less often spelled "smilie".Today, the smiley face has evolved from an ideogram into a template for communication and use in written language. This began with Scott Fahlman in the 1980s when he first theorized ascii characters could be used to create faces and demonstrate emotion in text. Since then, those Fahlman's designs have become digital pictograms, known as emoticons. They are loosely based on the ideograms designed in the 1960s and 70s, continuing with the yellow and black design.

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