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The Text Message Turns 19

Fri 09 Dec, 2011 // Firstnumber Team
Text Messaging turns 19

This December marks the 19th anniversary of the text message, which was invented by Neil Papworth in 1992, when he sent Richard Jarvis, the Vodafone director, a text message at the staff Christmas party that simply read, “Happy Christmas”. The message, which was sent from Papworth's work computer to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone, was, and still is, called an SMS, or Short message Service.

Millions of text messages have been sent and received all around the world, and the service has even spawned the entirely new lexicon of 'text speak'; a range of words shortened in order to fit them into a text message, such as C U L8R (see you later) How r u? (How are you?), LOL (Laugh Out Loud), and of course, OMG! (Oh my God!).

However, even though the text message was available from 1992, the service didn't start becoming popular until the early 2000s, and this year it has been estimated that 8 trillion text messages will have been sent – that's 15 million a minute. Compare that to the number of people texting in 1995, when the average mobile phone customer sent just 0.4 text messages a month.

Globally, the nation that texts the most is mobile phone customers in the Philippines, where subscribers send an average of 27 texts a day. Worldwide, the SMS text message industry is believed to generate $114.6 billion in global revenues.

So, in just 19 years the SMS, which began as an internal communications project that allowed employees of Vodafone to communicate with each other quickly, simply, and efficiently, has evolved into a trusted service that people around the world use daily.

So where can text go after it's 19th birthday? It still seems to be as popular as ever in 2011, but will this still be the case in years to come? Only time will tell, but it could just grow and grow from here.

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