Today is the 20th anniversary of the Short Message Service used for sending 160-character messages via mobile phone networks. The first official SMS message was sent on this day in 1992, when an Sema Group engineer named Neil Papworth sent a text message from a computer to the Orbitel 901 mobile phone being used by Richard Jarvis of Vodafone UK. The message simply said ‘Merry Christmas’.
SMS had been devised some years earlier; Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen is credited with creating the initial concept in 1984.
TeliaSonera Sweden was the first network to offer a commercial service that took advantage of SMS, using it for voicemail notifications in 1993, while Radiolinja Finland (now known as Elisa) launched the first commercial person-to-person SMS service later that year.
Some countries are now seeing SMS traffic and revenue both falling, although SMS traffic is still increasing globally, according to figures from Informa Telecoms & Media. The research company forecasts that global SMS traffic will reach 6.7 trillion messages this year, a year-on-year increase of 13.6% from 2011. By 2016, the annual global SMS figure is expected to total 9.4 trillion messages, generating $127 billion (£79 billion) in revenue.
[Informa Telecoms & Media blog]