(MARKETPLACE.org) – The year was 1982. The internet was in its infancy, and email had just opened up between universities. There was even a kind of social media, remembers Scott Fahlman, computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. You could send an email to a bulletin board to post it up. And just like today, sarcasm was rampant, and often misinterpreted.
“We would have these flame wars,” Fahlman said. “We felt maybe we needed a way to mark the posts that we put up that were just meant to be humorous.”
They considered using an asterisk in the subject line, but that wasn’t intuitive. Instead, Fahlman threw together three easy-to-find characters: a colon, a dash and a closing parenthesis. 🙂
“I thought, maybe people would turn their heads, and we could make a really nice face in that case,” he says.