In 1992, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old software programmer, sent the first ever text message from a computer to his colleague Richard Jarvis.
Papworth had been working as a developer and test engineer to create a Short Message Service (SMS) for his client, Vodafone. That very first text, sent on the 3rd December 1992, simply said ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’.
One year later in 1993, Nokia introduced an SMS feature with a distinctive ‘beep’ to signal an incoming message.
At first, text messages had a 160-character limit. Early adopters got round this by inventing ‘txt spk’, such as ‘LOL’ for ‘laughing out loud’ and ‘emoticons’ – symbols made from keyboard characters to show emotions. These would later inspire the creation of the first emojis.
In 1999, seven years after Neil Papworth’s first SMS message, texts could finally be exchanged on multiple networks, propelling them into greater popularity than ever before.
Today, ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ messages are now sent by millions all over the world using texts, videos and emojis. Marking the 25th anniversary since the first text, Papworth has imagined a more modern version of his 1992 Christmas message, this time using emojis.
Papworth said: “In 1992, I had no idea just how popular texting would become, and that this would give rise to emojis and messaging apps used by millions. I only recently told my children that I sent that first text. Looking back with hindsight, it’s clearer to see that the Christmas message I sent was a pivotal moment in mobile history.”
– The first text message ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ was sent on 3rd December, 1992 by software architect Neil Papworth on the Vodafone network
– The first texts had to be no longer than 160 characters
– Happy emoticons ranged from 🙂 to ヽ(•‿•)ノ and later inspired the first emojis which were invented in Japan in 1999
– LOL stands for ‘laughing out loud’ not ‘lots of love’