In a world where we all live with multiple instant messaging services, whether your favorite is WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage or something completely different, it can be all too easy to forget that once upon a time the only way to send and receive instant messages on a mobile device was good old fashioned SMS.
It’s even easier to forget that there was also a time before SMS, and this past Sunday saw the the anniversary of the very first SMS message’s sending. This all happened on December 3rd, 1992.
The first message sent via SMS was by British engineer Neil Papworth with the recipient being Richard Jarvis, an executive at telecoms company Vodafone. Jarvis was attending his company’s holiday party in Newbury, England, and fittingly the message simply read “Merry Christmas.” No reply came, because while the outbound message was sent by a computer, there was no way to reply from the Orbitel 901 that Jarvis was using.
While Papworth was the first to send an SMS, it was actually a man called Matti Makkonen, who initially suggested the idea back in 1984 at a telecommunications conference, who is generally known as the main man behind the technology. However, while the idea of SMS is something we are all familiar with today, it took years before it took off. Makkonen does not believe SMS was actually launched until 1994, when Nokia included it in its new 2010 mobile phone.
These days there are billions of messages sent every day, with that number reaching 18.7 billion per day in 2014. The world would have been a different place without SMS, and while internet-based messaging services are popular today, we have SMS to thank for getting the idea of texting into our heads in the first place.