December 1, 2012
Happy bday! SMS txt msgs turn 20
The system devised over pizza in Copenhagen is marking its 20th year and phenomenal growth. Network World reports.
Dec. 3 is the 20th anniversary of the sending of the first SMS text message.
Today, upwards of 7 trillion text messages are sent every year -- that's more than 200,000 per second -- but the technology had humble beginnings.
Its origins can be traced back to a Danish pizzeria in 1984. Matti Makkonen, a Finnish engineer, was in Copenhagen for a mobile telecom conference and began discussing with two colleagues the idea of a messaging system on the GSM digital cellular system. At the time GSM was a Nordic technology, becoming a European standard later.
Eight years later, SMS had become a standard and Neil Papworth, an engineer working for Sema Group in the U.K., was one member of a team developing SMS service center software for Vodafone.
The development work had been going on for most of the year and on Dec. 3, 1992, Papworth made the 30 minute journey from Sema's offices in Reading to Vodafone's headquarters in Newbury. Both are in Berkshire, just west of London.
Testing had been taking place for weeks. Just as today, Vodafone had a stringent series of checks to be carried out before Sema's SMS system could be interconnected with its network.
The approval was finally given and the systems interconnected, then Papworth, sitting in front of a personal computer, tapped out the greeting "Merry Christmas" and sent it via SMS to Vodafone Director Richard Jarvis.
The text-messaging era was born.
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