Texting

PICTURE: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

It was on 2nd December, 1992, that a then 22-year-old British software engineer by the name of Neil Papworth sent the first text - "Merry Christmas" - to a Vodafone executive, Richard Jarvis.

Formally known as SMS (Short Message Service), the idea has since taken off with the advent of smartphones cited as a key factor in its explosion. Some 22 billion are now sent worldwide each day including an average of 85 million a day in Australia.

The idea had been years in the making and was first brought forward in the mid-1980s in Europe (Matti Makkonen is credited with first suggesting it at a telecommunications conference in 1984). Years of collaborative work followed before Papworth sent his first message. And even then he did so by typing the words into a computer screen, thanks to the fact that phone handsets could only at that point receive - and not send - texts.

The first commercial services began to appear in the following year and the first application of the system - limited to 160 characters (an idea that Twitter, which recently lifted its character limit to 140 from 70, took on) - was for the delivery of messages by networks, such as those sent to inform people a voice mail message had been left.

Texting, as the sending of messages on phones has become known, has since developed its own language including the use of emoticons and it's also spawned an entire system of etiquette.

The future, however, remains something of an unknown with SMS now facing threats on numerous fronts - particularly from apps like WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger. In the meantime, H-BDay SMS!