The Man Who Created the Smiley Face Was Paid a Mere $45

It's hard to go anywhere today where you don't see a smiley face. The smiley face was first created 50 years ago in Worcester, Mass., by Harvey Ross Ball, an American graphic artist. Ball came up with the image in 1963 when he was commissioned to create a graphic to raise morale among the employees of an insurance company after a series of difficult mergers and acquisitions. He finished the design in less than 10 minutes and was paid $45 for his work. The State Mutual Life Assurance Company made posters, buttons, and signs adorned with the smile in an attempt to get their employees to smile more. It’s uncertain whether the new logo boosted morale, but the smiley face was an immediate hit. Neither Ball nor State Mutual tried to trademark or copyright the design, so in 1970 brothers Bernard and Murray Spain, owners of two Hallmark card shops in Philadelphia, added the slogan “Have a Happy Day” and made it their own. By the end of the year, they had sold more than 50 million buttons and countless other products. French journalist Franklin Loufrani became the first person to register the smiley face for commercial use in 1972, subsequently trademarking the smile and launching Smiley Company. In 1996, Loufrani’s son Nicolas took over the business and transformed it into an empire that today makes more than $130 million a year…….all because of Harvey Ball’s $45 idea. In 2001, Harvey’s son Charlie tried to reclaim the optimistic legacy of his father’s creation from unbridled commercialization by starting the World Smile Foundation, which donates money to grass-roots charitable efforts that otherwise receive little attention or funding.