Emoji Timeline

A timeline of cultural and technical events in the history of emoji



The World's First Emoji Set

SoftBank, known as J-Phone at the time, releases the SkyWalker DP-211SW mobile phone on the 1st of November 1997, with the world's first known emoji set. The set includes 90 distinct emoji characters, among them one of the most iconic emoji characters in the Unicode Standard, the poo emoji.

The SoftBank emoji designs heavily influenced Apple's original emojis which was designed to be compatible with this set when launched in Japan, due to iPhone being a SoftBank-exclusive phone when first released.

Shigetaka Kurita himself tweeted in January 2019 that “The first emoji use in mobile devices in Japan was a pager, but in mobile phones DoCoMo wasn't the first, I think it was J-PHONE DP-211SW”.

Shigetaka Kurita's Tweet
Shigetaka Kurita's Tweet
Softbank Emojis 1997 by Emojipedia
Courtesy: Softbank/Emojipedia