World’s first text message was sent 25 years ago today

In 1992, Neil Papworth, sent the first ever text message from a computer.

  • Published: December 3, 2017 12:56 PM IST

Before WhatsApp took over, Short Message Service or SMS was then the new age form of communication. It was so popular that its character limits forced people to create a new form of writing, which was often referred to as the ‘SMS lingo’. But can you tell how long it’s been that the first ever SMS was sent? It’s been 25 years!

In 1992, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old software programmer, sent the first ever text message from a computer to his colleague Richard Jarvis. Papworth had been working as a developer and test engineer to create a Short Message Service (SMS) for his client, Vodafone. That very first text, sent on the 3rd December 1992, simply said ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’. Back then, texts had to be no longer than 160 characters.

Papworth says, “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.”

Like mentioned above, the first SMS wasn’t even sent on a mobile phone. Handsets could only receive messages, not send them, so Papworth typed out the season’s greetings on a computer. It took a while for texting to catch on. SMS-capable phones were only just available in 1993, but as mobile phones became more popular, texting skyrocketed. In 1993, Nokia introduced an SMS feature with a distinctive ‘beep’ to signal an incoming message.

As for the ‘SMS lingo’ we mentioned, early SMS adopters got around this by inventing ‘txt spk’, such as ‘LOL’ for ‘laughing out loud’ and the then ‘emoticons’, which were limited to : ) or ヽ(•‿•)ノ. However, these later inspired the first emojis, which were invented in Japan in 1999.

  • Published Date: December 3, 2017 12:56 PM IST