Skip to content

Text Messaging Turns 25

OMG, the first SMS was sent in 1992!

Text messaging turns 25

Getty Images

Text messaging marks 25 years of LOLs, OMGs and ROTFLs this month.

Happy birthday, texting. OMG, you’re 25!

The technology that you (probably) use to talk to your children and grandchildren was used for the first time 25 years ago this week, according to tech site CNet. That paved the way for emojis, LOLs, OMGs and other things you never would have heard of if texting hadn’t come along.

Using a PC (because mobile phones weren’t equipped to type text messages), British engineer Neil Papworth sent the message “Merry Christmas" to the phone of telecom executive Richard Jarvis on Dec. 3, 1992, marking the first SMS — short message service — text ever sent to a mobile device.

“In 1992, I had no idea just how popular texting would become, and that this would give rise to emojis and messaging apps used by millions,” he told Britain’s Daily Mail. “Looking back with hindsight, it's clearer to see that the Christmas message I sent was a pivotal moment in mobile history.”

It didn’t take phone manufacturers long to adapt the new technology, and within a few years the sight of people slowly spelling out words on numeric keypads became the norm. That was followed by full QWERTY keypads on phones — and now smartphones.

SMS, the technology used to send text messages, has increasing competition. Facebook’s Messenger, Snapchat and other chat apps all grab space once held solely by texting. And video and graphics play a growing role.

A study commissioned by Messenger, published last month, reported 77 percent of people over age 55 use emojis to communicate, and 53 percent use GIFs. The study reported 80 percent of adults and 91 percent of teens message every day.

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.