Sunday saw a milestone in communication as texting turned 25.
The first message using the Short Messaging Service (SMS) was sent Dec. 3, 1992 by software engineer Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis, then a director with Vodafone UK, a British telecommunications provider.
The then 22-year-old Papworth used a computer to send a simple message to Jarvis’ phone: “Merry Christmas.”
In a Vodafone press release marking the anniversary, Papworth said he didn’t foresee the significance of his note when he sent it all those years ago.
“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.”
Nokia would introduce the SMS feature on its phones starting in 1993. By 1999, multiple networks offered the feature.
The first SMS messages had a 160-character limit, forcing early texters to get creative by using so-called “txt spk” abbreviations and emoticon symbols, the forebears of modern emojis.
SMS would eventually supplant the traditional phone call as the dominant form of communication until the rise of the smartphone saw it replaced by messaging services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.