The First Text Message Was Sent 22 Years Ago Today

December 3, 2014

11:01 am

As it turns out, 1992 wasn’t all that different from today. We were already sending text messages, celebrating Christmas way too early, and communicating with our colleagues at all hours.

On December 3, 1992, 22-year-old Sema Group engineer Neil Papworth sent the first text message. It was sent from his computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone (one of Sema Group’s customers), who was attending a Christmas party. It said, simply: “Merry Christmas.”

Papworth was working on developing a “Short Message Service Centre” (SMSC) for Vodafone at the time. In a 2007 press release, he says, “I was a young engineer working on new communications technologies. We thought SMS was a clever way for a company’s staff to send simple messages to one another. I’d never have predicted that it would spread into the consumer world and become what it is today. At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal.”

Papworth told CTV in 2012 that he now only sends 10-15 texts per week, but he did consider proposing to his wife via text. Thankfully for him and their marriage, she didn’t have a phone at the time.

In contrast, the average texter sends and receives almost 300 texts a week. And 18- to 24-year-olds were exchanging an average of over 700 texts a week in 2011, reports Pew. Kids these days!

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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