OMG, It’s the SMS Text Message’s 20th Birthday! (FML)
Today is the twentieth anniversary of the first SMS text message, sent in 1992. Text messaging has since revolutionized the way human beings communicate while simultaneously dumbing down written communication and butchering the English language. Yay SMS.
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
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.)
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.