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What The First Ever Text From 23 Years Ago Said

Categories: Vocabulary Building Words, Vocabulary Research |

Happy Birthday, Texting! Though it’s most often associated with teenagers these days, texting itself can now be considered an adult. It has been 23 years since that very first text message went from one device to another, making the first ever sender and recipient world-famous for being the first people to engage in what eventually ended up being a daily and almost obsessive activity for millions of people.

Neil Papworth was the first person to use the short message service (SMS) function to send a text message. On December 3, 1992, Neil sent his colleague, Richard Jarvis, a holiday greeting. “Merry Christmas,” was the text that Jarvis received on his Orbitel 901.

The story goes that Neil Papworth never got a reply, or at least not immediately. Unlike today’s access-anywhere mobile phones, devices other than computers didn’t support texting at the time.

Who would’ve thought that two decades later, texting would be the most popular, affordable and fast non-verbal way to communicate? With yearly SMS traffic being projected to exceed the 9  trillion by next year, it’s evident that the SMS is the king of electronic, non-verbal communication in the 21st century.

Today millions of people enjoy this swift, discreet and efficient way to communicate locally and internationally. Although instant messaging and social media apps that provide alternate ways of sending messages are becoming increasingly popular, texting still holds tight to its position as the leader in electronic communications.

Texting has matured on another level as well. Today, this method of communication has many uses outside the personal realm. Brands are using texting to send offers, promotional coupons, and recommendations to their subscribers and loyal customers. The 160-character service seems more than enough for marketing and commercial purposes, especially when backed by the power of an international corporation.

Being available across platforms makes texting a prevalent mode of communication despite the new and attractively different apps that everyone seems to be using. Though each new app gets its followers, they find it hard to completely overshadow texting. It’s a mature, robust communication tool that shaped entire generations and has become part and parcel of cultures that traverses age, race, culture, and socioeconomic status.

Many people rushed to claim that texting was dead, after seeing the rapid growth of apps like WhatsApp. But the truth is that (for the time being at least) texting is a more accessible and global method. Anyone can receive a text message from you, but not everyone has a smartphone, let alone the specific app you are using. There are signs that mobile applications will possibly replace texting in the following years, but for now the simple SMS is here to stay.

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