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iPhone Whale is an emoticon of a cartoon whale sent using iPhone’s messaging app iChat. The concept became popular after a screenshot of the chat log was posted on the web, spawning a number of variations and parodies on Tumblr and Reddit.
The original image was posted by Tumblr user DaringCatastrophe on September 7, 2011, showing a short snippet of an iPhone conversation featuring an ordinary whale and a baby version. As of September 10, 2011, the original post had gained over 240,000 notes on Tumblr.
On September 8, 2011, the image was posted onto Reddit by the user SweetAlmighty, with the title “Life of a Whale Biologist”, where it also became popular, reaching the front page and amassing over 880,000 views. Other threads featuring variations of the image, failed attempts and other “ASCII” animals soon started appearing, with some even reaching the site’s frontpage as well.
On September 9, single topic blog iPhone Whale was launched on Tumblr, inspiring photoshopped parodies based on popular films and fictions about whales. The texting phenomenon was also covered by several tech and internet humor blogs like BuzzFeed, FunnyJunk and TechEBlog among others.