The Txt Msg Trns 25 2day

By Tom Pritchard on at

Back in 1992 the world was a very different place. The world wide web was in its infancy, mobile phones were the size of actual bricks, and text messaging wasn't a thing. Or at least it wasn't until 3rd December. That's right, on this day 25 years ago the text message was born.

The very first message was sent by 22-year old software programmer Neil Papworth, who had been working for Vodafone in order to develop the Short Messaging Service - better known as SMS or text messaging. The message was sent from Papworth's computer to an Orbitel 901 handset manned by his colleague Richard Jarvis. All it said was "Merry Christmas".

A year later Nokia released the first phone capable of sending text messages. It also came with the now iconic beep tone to notify people when a message had arrived. Fun fact: the tone spells out the word SMS in morse code (... -- ...). Naturally the first consumer SMS service available was in Nokia's homeland of Finland.

It wasn't until 1999, however, that text messages could be sent to phones on other UK networks.

As most of you will no doubt remember, text messages were initially limited to 160 characters, leading to people inventively looking developing a shorthand to save space. Unfortunately, even in a world where characters limits aren't as limited as they used to be (except on Twitter), people still talk like that on phones and online.

But enough moaning, let's wish the text message a very happy birthday. It's old enough to rent a car now.


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