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Happy Birthday to you SMS! Text Messages turn 20 today

Today, Monday 3 December marks the 20th birthday of the SMS (Short Message Service).

Today, upwards of 7 trillion text messages are sent every year — that’s more than 200,000 per second — but the technology had humble beginnings.

smsThe father of SMS is Matti Makkonen, a Finnish engineer. He came up with the idea of a Message Handling Service for GSM digital mobile phones in 1984 in a pizzeria in Copenhagen, during a conference on the future of mobile communications. Unfortunately, he never received a penny for his pioneering work, because he didn’t apply for a patent.

One year later, the format of 160 characters was determined by a communications researcher, Friedham Hillebrand. While trying to standardize the technology that would allow cellphones to transmit and display messages, he discovered that the average sentence or question needed only 160 characters.

orbitel 901Seven years later, SMS had become a standard and Neil Papworth, an engineer working for Sema Group in the U.K., was one member of a team developing SMS service center software for Vodafone. Hesent the first SMS message after weeks of testing. The short text message, simply read “Merry Christmas“, was sent from Neil’s computer to the Orbitel 901 cell phone of Vodafone Director Richard Jarvis via Vodafone UK’s network in 1992.

The text-messaging era was born.

People always ask me if it was a monumental occasion. For me, I was working for Sema, Vodafone paid us to write the software and we got the job done,” Papworth said in an interview.
But Papworth said he is not surprised with the success SMS has enjoyed.
At the time, I never thought it would be so big. Now I see what it has become, I’m not surprised because it’s so easy. It’s on all phones. Not everyone has a smartphone and GSM is still rolling out in some countries. In those countries, not all customers will have a smartphone, but at least everyone will have a basic phone,” he said.
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2 Comments on “Happy Birthday to you SMS! Text Messages turn 20 today”

  1. Carolina Mattedi December 20, 2012 at 6:13 am #

    congratulations for the text.

  2. Florene Bronson December 23, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    whoah this weblog is excellent i really like studying your posts.
    Stay up the great work! You already know, a lot of people are searching round for this information,
    you can help them greatly.

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