If you’re thumbing through your phone’s emoji keyboard looking for a pot leaf to text to your friend, keep swiping. You’ll have to settle for a more abstract representation like a puff of smoke because the process behind adding a new emoji is more complicated than you think.
In 1987, engineers from Apple and Xerox started brainstorming how to encode characters so that each language’s letter or symbol fit a standardized width and storage space. Four years later, the Unicode Consortium was founded, with representatives from most major tech companies sitting on the Board of Directors.
To this day, this group — which now includes representatives from UC Berkeley, the government of Bangladesh and more — oversees all additions to the Unicode alphabet.
In 2009, a group of engineers petitioned the Unicode Consortium to adopt “emoji,” a group of over six hundred characters that were widely used in mobile text messaging systems across Japan. The…
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