It was December 3, 1992. The first text message in history just celebrated its 30th anniversary this month. Nothing very rejuvenating! Especially in view of the evolution of the text message over time, which resulted in the birth of emojis, the alternative of voice messages, or even the debate among smartphone manufacturers between SMS sent by the classic GSM network and messages sent over the Internet (known as RCS).
But if there is something more original, each year, with the anniversary of the SMS, it is that it is very likely that your last message sent will be exactly the same as the last one from 1992. At this time , to carry out a test, the computer developer Neil Papworth sent from a computer to a telephone the message of “Merry Christmas” (“Merry Christmas” in French). Never before had a message been sent out into the world via this technology.
The year following this first message, its British inventor had traveled around the world to install new systems for sending SMS. At that time, Neil Popworth was working for Sema Group Telecoms, where he served as a developer and test engineer. The first SMS customer must be Vodafone UK. In this case, it had been received on an Orbitel 901, which is none other than the first GSM in the world and intended to be integrated into cars.
The first text was Merry Christmas: pic.twitter.com/IHHT5UpewL
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) December 25, 2022
“In 1992, I had no idea how popular texting would become, no idea that it would give rise to emojis or the messaging apps that are used by millions of people. I only recently told my children that I had sent the first SMS. Looking back, it’s more obvious that the Christmas message I sent represented a pivotal moment in mobile history.” explained Neil Papworth in 2017 in a Vodafone campaign.
The computer developer is known to be the very first sender of an SMS, but he is not, however, the creator of the technology. In reality, the SMS comes from research by the Finn Matti Makonen, in 1984. He was then working at Nokia Networks and Telecom Finland and would have had the idea of the SMS while eating a pizza.
According to him, the sending of the first SMS six years later is not the most important date of this technological evolution. He rather quoted the year 1994, ten years after its invention, when Nokia released the 2010. With this model, it became possible to receive, but also to send SMS, thanks to a keyboard with letters.