May 20, 2022

Happy Birthday to SMS (Text Messaging), 20 Years Old Today

From The Telegraph (UK):

On December 3 1992, engineer Neil Papworth sent the first SMS message to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone. It simply read “Merry Christmas,” and Jarvis had no way of replying.

The idea of sending short messages via mobile phone only became a focus for telecoms companies in the UK years later, though the first commercial SMS service was launched in Sweden in 1993 by Telia.

Most companies in 1994 were investing heavily in pagers, but consumers’ enthusiasm for texts, which did not require the intermediary of an operator, meant a change of tack from from the mid-1990s onwards.

Vodafone in the UK launched text messaging in 1994. At that time texts were completely free but could be sent only to people on the same network. The medium gained instant popularity among students, who soon began shortening words into “text speak.”

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Happy bday! SMS txt msgs turn 20 (via Computerworld)

See Also: SMS Celebrates 20th Anniversary (via

See Also: 15 years of text messages, a ‘cultural phenomenon’ (New York Times; December 5, 2007)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.