Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Smile When You Say That

This is not Nikola Tesla.

But because geeks run the Internet, everyone is suddenly celebrating July 10 as Nikola Tesla Day.

If you haven't seen this on The Oatmeal, it's probably because you
spend all your time online looking at porn.
Because there's nothing cooler and more cutting-edge than celebrating the birthday of a 19th-century Serbian inventor.

Except possibly a stormtrooper Elvis impersonator.
Yeah yeah, Tesla was great, he invented sucking helium out of balloons and putting worms in lollipops and cross-dressing. Or whatever. I assume he did at least one of those things.

Today I choose to celebrate the birthday of another great inventor: Harvey Ball, the creator of the smiley face.

Have a nice day.
That's right, in 1963 Harvey Ball, a graphic designer, created the smiley face. So what, you say? Big deal?

Son of smiley is shocked at your reaction.
Let's put this in perspective. We all know that someone invented the automobile (we usually attribute it to Karl Benz or Klaus von Auto) and that there was a point in history before which there were no cars. Same with the transistor, the single-action revolver, and Pong.

Invented by Giovanni Pongolini.
But to have invented something so ubiquitous and simple that I'll bet most of you reading this didn't even realize it had an identifiable originator and wasn't found carved into cave walls and was in fact actually created less than 50 years ago?

That's greatness.

On the other hand, "Doctor Who" also premiered in 1963,
and these people will never, ever let you forget it.
The humble smiley face is the reason we have emoticons, the international language of misinterpreted communications on the Internet.

I have yet to discover why this exists.
If you were a child of the 60s or 70s, you owned a button or a t-shirt or a backpack or a Trapper Keeper with a smiley face on it. Who doesn't like to carry around a smile? FFFFFUUUUU dude excepted, of course. He just doesn't get it.

So while the other geeks are are all "Woo! Tesla rules! I don't personally understand the concept of alternating current, but still!" I'm celebrating the birth of another enduring icon. Happy Birthday, Harvey Ball. Or as I like to call him, Harvey Smilekowski.

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