When Was the First Text Message Sent?

The concept of text messaging was first developed in 1984, and the first text message was sent eight years later in December of 1992. The message read “Merry Christmas” and was sent by British engineer Neil Papworth from his computer to British telecom Vodaphone executive Richard Jarvis’s mobile handheld phone. Although the mobile phone was able to display the text message, mobile phones did not have the capability to respond to text messages until 1993. Text messaging, technically referred to as short message service (SMS), had an average of 0.4 messages sent per month in the US in 1995. By 2011, the average number increased to 35 per person per day, with 81% of all mobile phone owners texting.

More about text messages:

  • An estimated 3.7 billion people worldwide use text messaging, according to 2012 findings.
  • Divorces can legally be conducted via text message in Malaysia.
  • Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen is credited with developing the idea for text messaging, but he never patented the idea because he didn’t think it would be worthwhile and therefore, never made any money from it.

Discussion Comments


Though I didn't own a cellphone until 2009, which was quite a while after texting was introduced, I can imagine that it was a huge deal when it was first introduced.

Before that, there were definitely some limitations when it came to calling people. Texting makes it easier because more than often, people might be too busy for you to call them, or they might not want to go out of their way to have a conversation, especially if its a private one, and they don't want anyone else to hear it.

More in relation to texting though, I find it a bit disappointing that Matti Makkonen never really took credit for his ideas with text messaging.

While there wasn't really a way of telling whether it would be all that beneficial or not, look at the world now.

We practically live on our phone, or at least most of us do. I think this just goes to show that more then often, when some kind of invention is being created, until it actually becomes successful, it's usually disapproved and disregarded by many. It's sad that people always have to try things out before they actually decided to give it a chance.


The first bullet point caught my interest the most, especially in how it talks about how many users have caught on to texting over the years. Not only is it hard to believe that it's an estimated 3.7 billion people, but think about this as well.

The statistics were according to 2012 findings. Well, the year now is 2015, and it's probably gone ever higher for all we know. On another note, while I do enjoy texting, does anyone feel that it dominates our lives too much?

For example, many times when we have the option of calling a friend or meeting them face-to-face, we decide to text them instead. Overall, I think the reason may be because it's something that we happen to be a lot more used to. In a way, it's become like a comfort zone. If we say or do something that they don't like, we don't have to see their facial reactions, like we would if the conversation was in person.

Imagine all of the young kids growing up in this generation, introduced to the world of texts and social media. While there are obviously always exceptions, sometimes it's just better to have a face to face conversation, instead of relying on a phone or social media. Does anyone else feel the same way?


Whether we like it or not, text messaging has really dominated our lives, and even mine, I'll admit. Also, it's really interesting reading about how it came to be, and even more so, how much it has changed over the many years.

After all, have you noticed that when you're reading these tidbits, for the most part, it seems like back in the 1980's, texting was a lot less sophisticated and much more primitive then it is nowadays? In fact, even back in the 1990's and in the early 2000's, text messaging still wasn't at its peak.

After all, you couldn't text multiple people at the same time, the features were quite limited. Regardless though, I still think it's amazing how far technology has come in this day and age. On a final note, I don't know about anyone else, but I think it's really amazing how texting has really influenced our lives, and not just in the aspect of social media either.

In fact, think of it this way. Notice how in the first bullet point, it mentions that divorces can be legally conducted via text messages in Malaysia. I don't know about anyone else, but I find that to be a rather disturbing concept.

I mean, has society become so advanced, that we've actually gotten to the point where we no longer have legal disputes face to face? On the other hand though, considering that a divorce is hard enough to deal with, maybe it's for the better not to have face to face communication.

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