Richard Jarvis was at a Christmas party in Newbury England when he looked down at his phone on December 3, 1992 and got a message of holiday cheer – “Merry Christmas” the text read.
It was a simple message, and the world’s first text. Sent from the computer of Neil Papworth, (then a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group) the “Merry Christmas” message was almost as simple as “Mr. Watson, come here,” the very first words spoken on the telephone. At that time, cell phones weren’t able to type out text, so the message had to come from Papworth’s computer – not like today’s iPhone.
After the first text message was sent it took another few years to formalize a business model. But the concept of texting happened years before. Friedhelm Hillebrand was a communications researcher from Bonn, Germany, he came up the 160 character length after typing out random sentences and questions on a piece of paper in 1985.
A year later Hillebrand would be the chairman of the non-voice services committee for the Global System for Mobile Communications. GSM would establish standards for most of the global mobile market, Hillebrand and the group set the requirement that all cellular carriers and mobile phones, support short messaging service (SMS).
They arrived at 160 characters based on two “convincing arguments,” Hillebrand would later tell. Postcards contained fewer than 150 characters and after analyzing messages sent through Telex, a then popular business network that used short telegraph-like messages, Hillebrand and his group found those messages were about the same length as postcards. The rest as they say, is history…
This guy is the reason your texts are 160 characters…
Text messaging has evolved a long way, as a generation of texters, we’ve created our own language, LOL’ing and TMI’ing our thoughts to everyone. The next generation of mobile device programming wizards will be deciding how smartphones will evolve and write their own history.
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