Kevin MacKenzie suggested emoticons in the very first internet community, MsgGroup.
In 1979, Kevin MacKenzie, a member of the MsgGroup e-mail list, complained about the “loss of meaning,” the lack of facial expressions, vocal inflection and gestures in e-mail correspondence. He suggested the use of a new form of punctuation in e-mails and used the example -). This was far less sophisticated than the :o) and many other emoticons in use today. MacKenzie was flamed (criticized) by the other people in the e-mail group at the time, but his legacy lives on. At this stage in its development, few people outside the research community used the internet. [http://www.elon.edu/e-web/predictions/early90s/internethistory.xhtml source]