SMS Text Messaging Turns 19 Years Old

Do you remember what you were doing 19 years ago today? Odds are high you didn't own a mobile phone, though you may have been rocking a beeper (yes kids, beepers used to be cool). But believe it or not, the very first SMS text message was sent off nearly two decades ago, much to the bane of linguists who twitch every time they see a shorthand message make a mockery of the English (or any other) language.

The very first text message was actually grammatically sound (mostly). It read, "Merry Christmas," and other than the lack of a punctuation mark, there isn't much for linguists to complain about. Today it's just as likely to be written as, "omg m3rry xma5!"

In any event, the world's first text message was hammered out by engineer Neil Papworth of the British technology company Sema (now Airwide Solutions) to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis in Newbury, southern England, according to The Times of India. It was sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the U.K. on December 3, 1992 from a computer to an Orbitel 901 handset.

SMS text messaging has certainly evolved since then. According to, 8 trillion text messages will be sent in 2011.