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SMS/Text Messaging Turns 20 Today


Have you ever imagined a life without text messaging or SMS? Today, we live in a time where sending text messages have become an integral part of our lives, even more so in the current era of smartphones and instant messaging. No matter how quickly technology evolves, text messaging will still remain one of the most used mediums of communication. And today, i.e. December 3, marks the 20th anniversary of the day the first SMS was sent. On December 3, 1992, Neil Papworth, who was an engineer at the time for the Sema Group sent the first SMS (short messaging service) to his buddy’s cellphone. Interestingly, Neil used his PC to send the SMS at the time. Neil hailed from a small town of Newbury, Berkshire in the UK. He sent a simple Merry Christmas message to his friend. What happened next is history. Although it took close to 7 years for the idea to materialize on a larger scale, it is now one of the widely used messaging services worldwide. This was clearly an evolution of the pager, which kicked off the whole idea in the first place. But we don’t see too many pagers these days, as cellphones have pretty much taken over its marketshare for obvious reasons.

Today with the advent of chat messengers and third party applications, basic text messaging has taken somewhat of a back seat. But it is reported that there are over 8 trillion messages being sent every year, which is an astonishing number. And unsurprisingly, most of the users belong to the 18-25 age group. It is baffling how much has changed since Neil’s first text message. It cannot be argued that some things are better said over texts than on calls, which could explain the dependency on SMSes. It must be noted that ever since carriers started offering free texts for their customers, the usage has dramatically increased.

On the downside though, it has badly affected our language. What we call the SMS lingo, has pretty much murdered the English language. We blame the character limit on SMSes for this and also to some extent, laziness. However, with new gen smartphones coming with autocorrect keyboards, some of these problems can be dealt with. So while there is plenty of good coming out of text messaging, it’s not without its downfalls. Texting and driving is yet another concerning issue brought to us by the eagerness and anticipation of what the person on the other end has to say. Well, there are always two sides of a coin, right? Regardless, it’s unimaginable what would happen to the world if text messaging didn’t exist at all.

Looking at how technology is moving ahead now, it’s hard to speculate where we’ll stand 10 or 20 years from now. But one thing is certain, things have certainly gotten a lot more interesting and people have become even more accessible now thanks to text messaging. Let’s hope the trend never dies off. When was the first time you sent a text? Let us know in the comments box below.

Via: Tech Crunch

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