On December 3rd, 1992, exactly 19 years ago, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group, made use of a personal computer to send a text message to Richard Jarvis using the Vodafone network. The message “Merry Christmas” was the first text message sent, according to the history reported by Wikipedia.
Although the first text message was sent in 1992, the service became popular in 1998 in the Philippines. In the year 2001, text messages played an important role and gradually the popularity of the service increased. In 2009, U.S. cell phone users sent roughly 4.1 billion texts every day. That’s 17 messages a day for every person with a data-capable phone. Today, text messaging is one of the most widely used mobile services, with over 74 percent of all mobile phone users worldwide.
Out of 3.3 billion subscribers, 2.4 billion users communicate daily using text messages. According to Wikipedia, the largest average users of text messaging service are in the Philippines, with an average of 27 texts sent per day by a subscriber, while subscribers in America send about 357 text messages per month on average.
SMS service is one of the dominant technologies in today’s world. Text Messaging has generated $585 billion for operators worldwide in 2011, and is expected to generate more than $1 trillion over the next seven years.
Why is text messaging limited to 160 characters?
Friedhelm Hillebrand, a communications researcher, conducted an experiment in 1985. He sat with his typewriter and started typing
random words and questions on a sheet of paper. He counted the number of letters, punctuation marks and spaces for each line and realized that the number of characters were in and around 160.
That became Hillebrand’s magic number, and he somehow convinced the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) coworkers that 160 characters was more than sufficient for short messaging service (SMS).
However, the world today not only relies on text messaging or SMS, but also makes use of micro blogging sites like Twitter to share information and communicate with people.
The Internet is celebrating the birthday of text messaging, and SMS service provider Tatango has put together an impressive timeline infographics showing the growth of text message over the last two decades.