How old are emoticons? We tend to associate them with texting and emails, but, in fact, emoticons date back to the 19th century (see a facsimile of a newspaper article within this article).
The word emoticon is a blend of the two words emotion and icon. Many emoticons, eg the smiley face, transcend language and are understood in most countries. The emoticon :-) was first used in a digital context in 1982 by Scott E Fahlman of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University.
Emoticons can be culture-specific. The three capital letters OTL in some cultures represent a kneeling person and represents failure, disappointment or despair; the O is the head, the T the body with the top of the T representing the two arms, and the L the bent legs.