20 Years Ago Today, Text Messaging was Born; Do you Remember Your First Text Message?

December 3, 2012 - Written By Alexander Maxham

It’s amazing to see how far phones have come in the past few years when Android got its feet wet in the smartphone world. But what about 20 years ago? Back in December of 1992, text messaging was born, or SMS. There are many of us who were probably little kids when text messaging was introduced, I know I was only a few years old. The world’s first text was sent by then 22-year old Neil Papworth, an UK Engineer. The text was quite simple and said “Merry Christmas”. The text was sent from a home computer to a Orbitel 901 mobile phone that belonged to Robert Jarvis on Vodafone’s network. Although text messages weren’t as real-time as they are today, thanks to technology, Jarvis did receive the text before Christmas.

It then took 2 more years for the inventors of SMS to get text messaging as a standard feature on new feature phones.  The first phone to really mainstream texting? The Nokia 2010.

But the idea behind text messaging actually goes back even further to 1984. A Finnish Engineer, Matti Makkonen who went on to work for Nokia and TeliaSonera, called the idea a “quick business need”. Makkonen did not patent text messaging as he didn’t feel it was worthy of being patented. But as we all know today, texting is a huge part of our lifestyle. Just imagine how things would have turned out in 2012, if text messaging was patented by Makkonen?

So how many people use text messaging? Well these numbers speak for themselves. About 7.8 trillion messages were sent worldwide in 2011. That’s quite a number, for something that wasn’t “patentable”. On average, users send about 50 texts per week, although for some it’s quite a bit more. While carrier profits on text messaging have reach over $500 billion. Anyone surprised?

So what was the first text message you sent? Do you remember who you sent it to? Let’s take a trip down memory lane in the comments below. My first text was in September 2006, but can’t remember who it was too or what it said. Can you?