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Emojis enter MoMA’s collection

Written by
Howard Halle

Move over Picasso and Matisse: The Museum of Modern Art is now adding emojis to its fabled collection. Not just any emojis, mind you, but the original set of 176 symbols released in 1999 by the Japanese telecommunications giant, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, or NTT. Emojis (picture characters) were created for NTT’s mobile Internet software as a way to maximize texting on the limited screens of cellphones at the time, but they were rooted in the emoticons that had been a feature of emailing since the 1980s. Emojis were an immediate hit in Japan but didn’t really take off globally until Apple added emoji functionality to its iOS messaging app in 2011.

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