Text messaging, the service that has led to many ridiculously large phone bills and equally ridiculous acronyms, is celebrating its 20th birthday today. That may come as a surprise to some, considering that text messaging is often viewed as a phenomenon of the 2000s, but the first text message was actually sent on this day in 1992. What did that first text message say? Simply “Merry Christmas.”
December 3 might be a little early to start wishing people a Merry Christmas, but no matter – when British engineer Neil Papworth sent that first message 20 years ago, it was impossible for him to know how big SMS would become in the future. In celebration of this milestone for SMS, BBC News got in touch with Matti Makkonen, the man often cited as the creator of SMS. Rather appropriately, their interview took place over SMS.
Makkonen said that he never envisioned SMS becoming as big as it is today when he came up with the idea way back in 1984, and thought it would simply become a way of sending quick business messages. He also doesn’t consider himself the creator of SMS, instead preferring to think of its creation as a “joint effort to collect ideas.” Oh, and for the record, he can’t “txtspk,” just in case you were wondering.
SMS was slow to take off, but fast forward today and we have trillions of messages being sent out each and every year. It’ll be interesting to see where SMS goes in the future, considering all of the Android handsets out there that can connect us to social networks and the rest of the Internet in the blink of an eye. Where do you think the future has in store for SMS?