Technology

Texting Turns 22

Passengers are still not allowed to text or make cellphone calls. (Matt Slocum/AP)
(Matt Slocum/AP)

Nic Denholm, TECH CRUNCH

(TechCrunch.com)—Half a lifetime ago, 22-year-old Neil Papworth sent the first ever short message service (SMS). His fifteen-character missive – ‘merry christmas’ – was sent to colleague Richard Jarvis on December 3, 1992.

This act was considered important enough to mark the occasion with a party but not important enough to invite its author. The truth is, nobody really saw the significance of what they were working on.

Twenty-two years and quadrillions of text messages later, SMS is the king of electronic communications. It makes tens of billions of dollars for network providers and connects billions of people around the world. Annual text traffic is expected to reach 9.4 trillion by 2016.

And why wouldn’t SMS statistics be so impressive? Cheap, effective and widely available, the rude health in which texting finds itself in 2014 was patently obvious in 1992. Or at least that’s what hindsight bias tells us. The truth is a little more complicated…
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