'Smiley' inventor dies at 79

The inventor of the yellow 'smiley' face symbol has died aged 79.

The inventor of the yellow 'smiley' face symbol has died aged 79.

Harvey Ball, of Worcester in Massachusetts, designed the face in 1963 to boost employee morale at two merged insurance companies.

At its peak of popularity in 1971, more than 50 million Smiley Face badges were sold.

"It was truly an international icon," said William Wallace of the Worcester Historical Museum.

The face has been used in countless advertising campaigns, most recently by Wal-Mart in the US.

Mr Ball died after a short illness and is survived by his wife, Winifred, three sons and a daughter, according to reports.

Mr Ball did not copyright the design and was paid only a $45 (£31) fee by State Mutual Life Assurance Companies of America. The company has since changed its name to Allmerica.

His son, Charles Ball, said: "He was not a money-driven guy. He used to say, 'Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time'.

"He was proud and pleased to have served his country and raise a family that never wanted for anything. He had kids in public schools who adored him.

"He'd get letters from all over the world thanking him for Smiley. How do you put a price on that? He died with no apologies and no regrets."

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