Eureka! From Gone Girl to the selfie stick – how one great idea can change your life

It was the 1990s, and we were designing a new online language to use in text messages. Before mobile phones in Japan, we used to have pagers called Pocket Bells. They were cheap and really popular among young people, partly because they had a heart symbol. I knew that symbols absolutely had to be part of any texting service. The original emoji were black and white and very simple. I drew inspiration from symbols used in weather forecasts. At first there were 200, for things like food, drink and feelings – including the heart, of course. Now there are over 1,000. I didn’t think emoji would spread and become so popular internationally. When I’m introduced as the man who invented emoji, people are taken aback. Emoji is incredibly useful because it transcends language – sometimes a single emoji can say more than words

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