Father of SMS Matti Makkonen Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Text Messages

After 20 years since introducing to the world SMS or short message services, Finnish innovator Matti Makkonen remains in his humble self, and apparently, still downplays the title as the father of text messages.

On December 3 1992, Neil Papworth of Sema Group sent the very first SMS message using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone with the use of Orbitel 901 handset. The phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ became even more iconic while Makkonen’s name will be forever linked to the word SMS.

However, during an interview with BBC to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of SMS, Makkonen was once again reluctant in accepting his title as the father of SMS.

“I did not consider sms as personal achievement but as result of joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them,” the Finnish told the BBC.

Makkonen also revealed that text messaging could have taken place a decade earlier after he introduced such idea at a telecommunication conference in 1984.

Yet, it took 8 more years before engineers started to ‘incorporate’ it on the GSM standard. Sadly, Makkonen never generated a single penny out of his work because he didn’t know then that it could be covered by a patent.

Nevertheless, Makkonen feels some sort of content after seeing his SMS invention becomes an integral part not only of communication but people’s daily living.

Asked if he’s using textspeak, Makkonen said he’s more convenient writing correct language using all 160 characters, though he sees texting as tool for language to develop by using symbols and fewer characters.

Surprisingly, Makkonen admitted that he’s kind of a slow texter despite the fact that he was the one who started it all. “I love touchscreen,” he texted the BBC on Monday. “Slow enough to think and sometimes even edit what I write.”

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