We’re all thumbs today, as text messaging turns 20. Thumbs up, as texting has become a great way to reach people without calling; thumbs down to those who text message and drive.
An engineer sent the first text message on Dec. 3, 1992 from a computer using a standard called SMS (Short Message Service) to a mobile device using Vodafone’s network in the U.K. The message: “Merry Christmas.”
The first commercial texting services started in 1993, but didn’t become popular until 1994, writes writes John White of Portio Research, based in the U.K. After that, text messaging’s growth was exponential. By 1999 — a zillion years ago in mobile and Internet time — 100 billion text messages were sent worldwide. By 2005, 1 trillion text messages were sent.
In 2012, worldwide SMS traffic “passed 8.5 trillion messages in one year,” he writes.