1st text message is sent, December 3, 1992

-December 03, 2017

Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group (now Airwide Solutions), sent the first text message to a mobile phone on December 3, 1992, from his personal computer to the Vodafone network to the phone of Richard Jarvis.

The text message read "Merry Christmas" (note, not “mry xmas” as it would most likely be abbreviated now, 20 years after this first text). 

Omnipoint Communications, the first GSM carrier in America, set up the first text messaging service in the United States. Omnipoint soon after offered the first texting between the US and the rest of the world, starting a 160 character micro-blog trend that Twitter would make even more popular. (Twitter reserves 20 characters for non-message content and maintains a 140 character limit.)

Initial growth of text messaging and SMS (short messaging services) was slow. Indeed, in 1995 only 0.4 messages per GSM customer were sent on average per month. Texting was in part held back by billing confusion from operators.

However, it is estimated that 2011 revenue for operators from texting topped $585 billion.

Also in 2011, the Oxford Dictionary added the common texting acronym “LOL” (laughing out loud or laugh out loud) to its listing.

Texting has become so prominent in everyday life that the Emily Post Institute offers etiquette tips for texting here.

Texting while driving has been rated more dangerous than drinking and driving in the United States.

Also see:

For more moments in tech history, see this blog.  EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on December 3, 2012 and edited on December 3, 2017.

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