This month marks the 25th anniversary of the first known usage of the popular word “LOL” for “laughing out loud”. The linguist Ben Zimmer notes that the earliest citation is from the May 1989 issue of a newsletter called Fidonet and is still available online.
Several terms on the original list, such as BTW, BRB, or even AFK, have stuck around, while others, including LMTO (laughing my tush off) and RAO (rolling all over), have persisted in slightly modified form. But some, LTNT (long time no type) and WLCM (welcome), have long ago faded into obscurity.
As for LOL in particular, a man named Wayne Pearson said that he remembers exactly how that one was coined.
Pearson claims that it was he who invented LOL in the early to mid-eighties on a Canadian bulletin board system, or BBS, called Viewline, where it quickly caught on and spread as Viewline users got free accounts on the larger chatroom service GEnie:
“LOL was first coined on a BBS called Viewline in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in the early to mid-eighties. A friend of mine who went by the name Sprout (and I believe he still does) had said something so funny in the teleconference room that I found myself truly laughing out loud, echoing off the walls of my kitchen. That was when ‘LOL’ was first used,” he said.
Unfortunately, Pearson didn’t keep any records of his purported first use of the term, so we can be sure of only 25 candles on the LOL birthday cake. the independent