Today is the anniversary of the first SMS (short message service), which simply said ‘Merry Christmas’. It was typed by test engineer Neil Papworth in 1992, who was 22 years old at the time. He sent it to his colleague using his PC as a way of celebrating the milestone.
‘I don’t know if they really thought it was going to be a big thing,’ Mr. Papworth said. 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. Ms. Bruton, the institute’s curator of technology and engineering, told Sky News: ‘For the very first time we have mobile telephones that were more than just literal mobile telephones, moving beyond voice communications to a new application of the mobile spectrum – to sending, literally, text messages.
She added: ‘And we can see that continues through to today when we have hundreds of thousands of applications on our smartphone. ‘So SMS can be considered the first step towards the modern smartphone.
The text message could be doomed as more people are using apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to send messages. Mobile phone users sent 102 billion text messages in 2015, which was down on the 150b messages exchanged in 2011, according to Ofcom statistics. This year UK analysts expect 7.89 trillion texts to be sent in total, which is dwarfed by the 32t app messages that will be sent. Matti Makkonen, an engineer from Finland who died in 2015, was credited with helping develop the technology behind the SMS.