25 years. It has been exactly 25 years since the first SMS was sent. The 160-character messages ruled for 2 decades till instant messaging apps like WhatsApp took over.
The first-ever SMS was sent on December 02, 1992 for Vodafone by a 22-year-old engineer named Neil Papworth. The SMS was sent from a computer, and said “Merry Christmas.” The recipient was Richard Jarvis, Vodafone director at the time.
25 years later, it is hard to get an accurate figure, but according to Statistics Brain, in June of this year, over 781 billion SMS messages were sent and received in the United States alone.
In less than a year after the SMS was introduced, Nokia made the SMS feature available on its handsets, with a 160-character limit. 6 years later, in 1999, the text messages could be exchanged over different telecom networks, and the first emoji was created.
The 160-character limit made people come up with innovative ways to convey their messages, and that resulted in ‘txt spk’ (text speak) becoming common.
Here is what Papworth says about the SMS:
“In 1992, I had no idea just how popular texting would become, and that this would give rise to emojis and messaging apps used by millions. I only recently told my children that I sent that first text. Looking back with hindsight, it’s clearer to see that the Christmas message I sent was a pivotal moment in mobile history.”