SMS turns 20

News Stacy Warden 13:10, Dec 03 2012

The first text message was sent 20 years ago. Here's what it said

"Merry Christmas." That's exactly what the first text message, sent by engineer Neil Papworth, said. Papworth sent the text straight from his PC to Vodaphone employee Richard Jarvis exactly 20 years ago today during a Christmas party. 

But SMS's 20th anniversary may be a bit short of celebrating two decades just yet. As Finnish engineer and "father of SMS" Matti Makkonen noted during a recent interview with the BBC, the texting technology didn't actually launch until two years after Papworth's Christmas tidings. 

Makkonen pointed out during the interview that it wasn't until 1994 that Nokia revealed a new mobile phone allowing its users to send short messages back and forth over the same network. In any case, Dec. 3, 1992 was a life-changing moment for many, and a surefire starting point for modern mobile communication. 

When the BBC asked Makkonen about his "fatherly" title over SMS, he essentially accepted credit for the idea process, but noted that others developed it. "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," he said during the interview (which, by the way, was completely conducted via text). 

Makkonen also said that he enjoys texting on a touchscreen; that it's "slow enough to think and sometimes even edit" what he writes. Probably most of us can agree on that one. 

So, how will you celebrate the 20th anniversary of SMS? 

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