Happy Birthday SMS – 20 today

The first SMS was sent 20 years ago on the 3rd of December.

It seems amazing that SMSs, which are now such a central part of our First World life, have only been around for 20 years. From a standing start on 3 December 1992 to today, when in trillions of SMS text messages are sent annually, the growth has been phenomenal. Not only has text messaging creating a whole new way to remain in contact, but it has created a whole new written language to go with it.

It is interesting though that the last couple of years have seen the first hints of a decline in SMS volume as people start to use messaging services via their internet connections in preference. It will be equally interesting to see as time goes on if the fact those services are on devices with better input methods will mean that the abbreviated SMS-talk will start to fade out.

In Australia the first SMS service was launched in 1994 but for several years Telstra saw the market as being from fixed stations to mobile devices, rather than between mobile devices (source). It wasn’t until April 2000 that Australians could send messages to each other regardless of carrier. Sort of sadly, the sector that continues to see growth in SMS usage in Australia is SMS marketing.

Anyway, very appropriately, that first SMS message sent 20 years ago today was “Merry Christmas”.

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