For years, we see the same thing everywhere. Things which are so graphically familiar and recognisable, they almost have one universal voice. Things we coined as, “Symbol.”

Iconographers, graphic designers, etc, whatever you want to call them, their masterpieces lived on this world longer than their very existence of lifetime. This week, we take some time off to bring you back on a time-machine ride.

The people who created these iconoclastic and unmistakeable symbols: It is time you know who is behind what.

The Heart Symbol

The heart, which represents Love and emotions, is a pictorial, physical sign for the heart of human beings/animals; although the biological indefinitive and different shape of a real, the human heart: the left side is bigger than the right.

But it was probably a good thing that the Italian Illustrators in the early 14th century drew the heart without first having seen the real biological bloody, pulsating one.

The Peace Symbol

Almost mistaken the Peace symbol often with a Mercedes-Benz logo, Yahoo! and several other sites has credited Lord Bertrand Russel’s invention of the peace sign in the 20th Century. However, there was no confirmation to his contribution despite the fact that he is a “Renowned peace advocate.”

If you would like to affirm that he is the creator of the peace sign, please note that in Germany and Austria, the peace sign is called Todesrune, The Rune of Death – an inverted life rune.

The Skull and Bone Symbol

This symbol is often read and interpreted as Pirates, Danger, Fatal and all associations of danger and death. The skulls and bones are also the symbol and name (Order of Skulls & Bones) of America’s Most Powerful Secret Society.

Also a symbol used by Nazis and a fraternity at Yale University. If symbol of the skull and two thigh bones were really designed by the members of The Order of Skull & Bones back in 1832, then William Huntington Russell would be thanked.

The Dollar Sign

Bling Bling. Dos this dollar sign really originated from the United States? Does the S in the dollar sign denotes the S in States? No, but it was invented by an American. Floran Cajori came up with explanations and break down of thesis on how the dollar sign came about, including the entire process to attain the symbol.

The dollar sign originally referred to the Spanish coin and although the first inventor of this sign remains a mystery, it is albeit confirmed that American Colonists in the 18th Cantury “made the transition from ps to the new sign. So, while it did not originally refer to the U.S. dollar, the symbol does legitimately claim its origins in that country.”

The Olympic Logo

According to Greek mythology, the five interlocked Olympic rings were the ancient symbol for sports/games. The five rings were invented in 1913 by Pierre de Coubertin, president of the International Olympic Committee.

According to David C. Young in Ancient Olympic Guide, “There had been five modern Olympiads by that time, and Coubertin’s writings suggest each ring was intended to represent a completed Olympiad, the first five host countries united in “Olympism” and peace. Apparently he expected to add a sixth ring after Olympiad VI, to be held in Berlin in 1916, and so on, until there was a flagful of rings and “universal peace.”

But Olympiad VI was preempted by World War I, so Coubertin gave the symbol a different official meaning: each ring represented one of the five continents of the world, united in Olympism (to Europeans, the “continents” number only five). Thus the logo froze at five and stays there today, a fossil of pre-World War I Europe, when hopes of world peace briefly flowered.”

The Smiley Face


Work of two brothers in Philadelphia, Bernard and Murray Spain in 1970: Bernard made the iconic face with Murray’s tagline “Have a happy day” and the yellow face was spread all over the advertising business for 18 months, carrying out its legend till this day. The number of smiley buttons was sold at an estimation of 50 million dollars in 1972.

Now smiley face is adopted everywhere, in MSN and Yahoo chatting windows, t-shirts, icons for Be Happy, and the list goes on.

The testimonials of the successes behind these graphic symbols are enhanced further when readers know which distinctive symbols I am talking about without having to display the particular images.

And so to these unsung and forgotten inventors… in great aplomb, “We’ll remember you.”

Written for Design TAXI


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