In the late 1990s, the Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo offered an early mobile service called i-mode that let users send small amounts of data over their pagers, including a heart icon at the end of messages. Users <3’d the <3. But for reasons that have been lost to history, DoCoMo pulled it from the service.
People were furious. They demanded DoCoMo bring it back. In 1999, the company released a new heart icon alongside 175 other icons that became the world’s first emoji.
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