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20 years since the first SMS was sent

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First published: December 3, 2012, 7:14 AM IST | Updated: December 3, 2012
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20 years since the first SMS was sent
The first SMS was sent via Vodafone's UK network to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone. The message said, "Merry Chistmas."

New Delhi: SMS (Short Message Service), that is now used more frequently than voice calling on mobile phones completes two decades of its existence on December 3. Today more than two lakh SMSs are sent every second, but this 160-character craze began when Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old British engineer, sent the first text message via Vodafone's UK network to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone. The message said, "Merry Chistmas."

There was a gap of eight years from when SMS was first envisaged by Finnish civil servant Matti Makkonen at a telecommunication conference in 1984 to the first actual SMS being sent outside laboratory conditions.

The first commercial SMS services started in 1993 in Sweden, followed by US and UK in the same year. In 1994, Nokia announced the Nokia 2110, which the Finnish company claims to be its first SMS-enabled GSM phone but its predecessor the Nokia 1011 could also send and receive SMS messages.

While SMS usage had been growing phenomenally since its inception, the widespread increase of Internet-enabled smartphone usage has led to a decline in SMS usage as more users prefer other messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Blackberry Messenger or Google Talk.

Matti Makkonen in an interview to the BBC, conducted over SMS, said that while SMS may not survive another 20 years but "text messaging will stay forever."

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