Every so often, I want to find an emoticon or other symbol in the standard Unicode character set, instead of linking to an image. The great folks at unicode-table.com display the entire Unicode character set!
A bit of history
One of the first character standards was the 7-bit ANSI character set, which was based on the English alphabet. This is fine until one day a French speaker needed to make an accent mark (such as Dépêche-toi!). Welcome to the 8-bit ISO-8859 standard! This worked well for Latin-based Western European languages. As computerized technology moved further east, this character set ran into its own limitations. To date, the ISO-8859 character has undergone 16 major additions. After a while, the 8-bit character set had reached it limitations and could no longer contain a single character set as required for the language. This ushered in the era of Unicode! Unicode has undergone its own revisions from 8 bit to 16 bit to 32 bit (UTF-8, UTF-16, UTF-32 or Unicode Transformation format). While 8-bit character sets include languages with character sets such as Cyrillic (русский), they struggled to include the full range of Kanji character sets. UTF-16 and now UTF-32 was developed to include these much more complex characters than the seemingly simply Latin or Cyrillic based characters. Japanese, for example: 昨夜のコンサートは最高でした。. According to Wikipedia, UTF-16 is capable of encoding all 1,112,064 possible characters. This means, there is also room for fun new characters such as thumbs up 👍, a dude with sunglasses 😎, or even a biker dude 🚵! You’ll notice the colorization of those, which is a decoration that WordPress adds.