World's first text message sent 25 years ago today

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"Looking back with hindsight, it's clear to see that the Christmas message I sent was a pivotal moment in mobile history".

"I don't know if they really thought it was going to be a big thing", Mr Papworth said.

Spelt with the full words - not Xmas, says Neil Papworth, the British engineer who sent it, eschewing the abbreviations that would define the medium.

A year later, the first commercial SMS service was available in Finland, and Nokia became the first company to release a handset capable of sending text messages.

It took a while for texting to catch on. United States mobile operators charged more for texts and less for voice calls, while PC-based instant messaging services were still incredibly popular.

And perhaps because they missed that initial adoption, Americans still don't add the customary "x" at the end of a message.


He could not have been more wrong though, with Elizabeth Bruton, who works for the Science Museum, letting everyone know how important the SMS was. December 3 marks 25 years since mobile telephones moved beyond mere audio.

The humble text message has reached its 25th birthday, and it sure has come a long way. So SMS can be considered the first step towards the modern smartphone.

Another article from EDN and that from TechSpot above notes that only 0.4 messages per GSM customer were sent on average per month in the United Kingdom, something that took a while to take off because, in the United Kingdom at least, inter-carrier messaging didn't happen until 1999.

Since then Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have taken over messaging, becoming more popular amongst the public.

The technology had actually been in development years before Papworth sent his festive message; SMS was conceived by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert of the GSM Corporation in 1984.

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