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Last Updated : Dec 04, 2017 02:42 PM IST | Source:

World's first SMS was sent 25 years ago and it changed the way people communicated

Text messages changed the way people communicated before its inception thorough pager and voice calls.

As millennials step into their quarter life phase, the almost-forgotten Short Message Service or SMS will turn 25. The first ever SMS was sent on December 2, 1992 by engineer Neil Papworth.

The first SMS was a warm and crisp “Merry Christmas” sent by Papworth to the then Vodafone director Richard Javis.

Text messages changed the way people communicated before its inception, through pager and voice calls.

In the beginning, the Short Message Service (SMS) users had to stick to a mere 160 character limit for each message; there was no way to exceed the limit and send the message as two texts combined into one, as is possible today.

But younger people, among whom texting soon became the trend, found a way around the limitation. They started shortening words (Thanks became 'thnx') and coining abbreviations such as ‘brb’ (be right back) that soon caught up with the texting world.

The first text messaging service was launched by Vodafone in 1994 in the United Kingdom. Although the SMS service was free, it could not be sent to people outside the Vodafone network.  It was only in 1999 that inter-network messaging was possible.

The texting speed was much slower back in the heydays of the SMS in the mid 90s. The T9 dictionary and similar predictive text mechanisms did not emerge before 1995.

It’s much faster today with curated predictive text systems that even register out-of-dictionary words people frequently use; one does not even have to type the old way as smartphone touchscreens offer keyboards such as Swype where the user can slide their finger across the letters (some, if not all) of the intended word and the keyboard uses algorithm and language structure to determine the word.

But with the advent of third-party messaging services that work over mobile internet free of cost, SMS usage is finally on the decline. With the rise of smartphones and internet usage, SMS seems to have taken a backseat.

The SMS-crazy United States too saw the first decline in SMS popularity as total number of sent messages fell 5 percent to 2.19 trillion in 2012. The trend is continuing in most countries.

Text messages had long been a major source of revenue for wireless carriers and often over-charged. With the decline in its popularity after a 25-year run, the telecom industry is also expected to suffer in terms of revenue.
First Published on Dec 4, 2017 01:44 pm
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