Awwww, the SMS text message is all growed up.
Today is the 20th anniversary of the first SMS (short message service) text message, which was sent on December 3rd, 1992, from Neil Papworth, an SMS engineer in London, to Vodafone employee Richard Jarvis, to wish him a Merry Christmas, according to WSJ.com. (Seems a bit early for a Christmas wish, no? "You just received the world's first text message, $%@#$%^&!@%*!!!!" would have been more appropriate, I think.)
One year later, Nokia released the first mobile phone that supported in-network text messaging. And in 1999, seven years after the first text message was sent, SMS messaging broke the network-specific boundaries, and wireless customers started sending texts to people on other wireless networks, WSJ.com says. The rest is history.
In its first 20 years, SMS text messaging unequivocally changed the way people communicate and spawned a whole new text-based language. Just think, before SMS texting people usually talked to each other to communicate. And when they did communicate via written word, via e-mail or actual letter, they often used real words and complete sentences.
No OMG, LOL, LMAO, ROFL or FTW.
In the United States, text messaging is on the rapid decline, thanks to data-based messaging services like WhatsApp, Kik Messenger, and to a lesser extent, Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). But text messaging isn't going anywhere anytime soon, no matter how many language-respecting citizens like me wish it would just die. In developing countries, where smartphones are much less common, SMS texting is still on the rise. And even if SMS is rubbed out by free messaging services, its effect on language and the written word will remain.
So, happy birthday, SMS text. (I hate you, SMS text.)