The History of Texting

by Paige Roosien | June 2, 2015
The History of Texting

“Merry Christmas!” Did you know that was the very first text message sent? In 1992, Neil Papworth sent this text on his computer via the Vodafone network. Text messaging (or SMS) is now used all over the world and is one of the most popular ways for people of all ages to communicate. But do you know about the full history of texting?

The history of texting

Let’s go a little further back. In 1984, Friedhelm Hillebrand sat in his office and typed hundreds of random sentences on his typewriter. He counted every letter and every space. Nearly every message was made up of fewer than 160 characters, leading Hillebrand to believe that 160 characters was the perfect length for a sentence. In Hillebrand’s eyes, 160 characters was “perfectly sufficient” for getting a message across. That’s why text messages today are limited to 160 characters.

What year did texting start?

In 1993, Nokia debuted the first mobile phone with the ability to send text messages. Phones didn’t have a keyboard at the time, so text messages had to be entered on numerical keypads. Messages could only be sent to a person on the same network as you. Two years later, T9 Word (also known as predictive text) was introduced.

When did texting become popular?

Nokia introduced the first phone with a built-in keyboard in 1997. Text messaging really took off at the start of the millennium once people were able to text friends on different networks. By 2002, more than 250 billion SMS messages were sent worldwide. By 2007, the number of texts sent each month surpassed the number of phone calls. Eventually, text messaging was officially the preferred way of communicating with friends and family.

Text messaging became popular because it’s easy, it’s fast, and it has a 99% open rate. It’s a no-brainer that texting students is the best way to communicate with them.

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