The smiley, smiley face, or happy face (☺), is a stylized representation of a smiling human face, commonly represented as a yellow circle (or sphere) with two dots representing eyes and a half circle representing the mouth. “Smiley” is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon.
The very earliest known examples of the graphic are attributed to Harvey Ball, a commercial artist in Worcester, Massachusetts. He devised the face in 1963 for an insurance firm that 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.
David Stern of David Stern Inc., a Seattle-based advertising agency also claimed to have created the smiley. Stern reportedly developed his version in 1967 as part of an ad campaign for Washington Mutual, but says he did not think to trademark it.