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These original 1999 emoji are now officially little tiny works of art

New York’s Museum of Modern Art has a cute new collection: the original set of 176 emoji symbols. The 12 pixel x 12 pixel images were a gift from the Japanese carrier Nippon Telegraph and Telephone. The emoji were first developed under the supervision of Shigetaka Kurita and produced for cellphones in 1999. 

The character set and others like it quickly became all the rage in Japan, but emoji didn’t catch on in the United States until they were added to Apple’s iPhone 12 years later. Here’s more about the collection

[Photo Courtesy of MoMA. Shigetaka Kurita. Gift of NTT DOCOMO, Inc.]CZ