1041-1450: Printing Press 


Long beforeall the tech jobs were outsourced to India, scribes experienced an early instance of creative destruction with the advent of the printing press. In 1041 AD Bi Sheng brought movable type printing technology to China, and by 1450 it had been improved on by Johannes Gutenberg. Hand-lettering was replaced by character serialization, a data format that could be stored and reused, and language was reduced to its most basic components: graphemes, phonemes, and punctuation marks. As mentioned in myemoji prehistorypost, a grapheme is the smallest unit that makes up a word. Graphemes are written representations of phonemes (groups of 2, 3 or 4 letters), and phonemes are the smallest units that make up a sound. In the English language, for instance, there are approximately 44 phonemes.


Because English today is based on phonograms, or symbols that represent spoken sound rather than concrete images, it may seem counterintuitive that wefind ourselvesin the throws of a digital pictographic obsession whenthe emoji fad has very much ended in its country of origin. So how did the appropriation of Chinese kanji symbols and the phonetic system pave the wayfor an army of delightful cartoonish symbols? How hasemoji grown to supplement our blandEnglish vocabulary?