Thursday, October 8, 2009

Question # 155

The very earliest known examples of the graphic are attributed to Harvey Ball, a commercial artist in Worcester, Massachusetts. He devised it in 1963 for the State Mutual Life Assurance Company, which wanted an internal campaign to improve employee morale. Ball never attempted to use, promote or trademark the image; it fell into the public domain in the United States before that could be accomplished. As a result, Ball never made any profit for the iconic image beyond his initial $45 fee. Also in 1963, a children's cartoon series titled The Funny Company began airing on television, which also featured a version of this on the caps worn by the animated children. In the UK, this is associated with, among other things, the acid house dance music culture that emerged during the second summer of love in the late 1980s. The face was used as an engraved logo on ecstasy tablets at the time.

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