SMS turns 20 years old today, inventor does interview over text messaging

Dec 3, 2012
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SMS turns 20 years old today, inventor does interview over text messaging

If you can believe it, text messaging turned 20 years old today, and while the technology really didn't boom until just a few years ago, the service has been around since 1992. The first text message ever sent took place on December 3, 1992, and was sent by British engineer Neil Papworth. The message simply read, "Merry Christmas."

While SMS was officially born 20 years ago today, the concept had been in the works for several years before that. Matti Makkonen is dubbed as "the father of SMS", and in 1984, he put forward the idea of a mobile phone messaging service. Unfortunately, Makkonen takes little credit for the phenomenon, mentioning that other folks were the ones who worked on the technology and made it a reality. Because of that, he rarely gives interviews, but BBC News was able to chat with him for a little, bit strictly over SMS.

Makkonen says that he never envisioned text messaging to be like what it is today. He never considered it as a "separate issue," and that it "was just a feature in the revolutionary mobile communications system. Very useful for quick business needs." Makkonen also never patented the idea, thus not making money from licenses and such, but he says that SMS really isn't a "patentable innovation" in the first place.

Nokia, in 1993, became the first company to make GSM handsets capable of text messaging, but the use of the service really didn't take off at all at the beginning. In 1995, people were only sending an average of 0.4 text messages per month. Fast forward 15 years later to 2010, and people sent over 6.1 trillion messages that year, or roughly 193,000 per second.

[via BBC News]


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