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On the same day that Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you” hit the charts as the #1 song in the US, and “Home Alone 2” topped the box office, 22-year-old software architect Neil Papworth sent the first SMS.
Although the technology was conceived by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert in 1984 at the GSM Corporation, the first SMS message was sent in December 1992 by Sema Group software architect Neil Papworth who used a computer to text “Merry Christmas” over Vodafone’s GSM network in the UK, where it was received by a Vodafone employee using an Orbitel 901 handset.
“I don’t know if they really thought it was going to be a big thing,” Papworth told Sky News.
The following year, in 1993, Nokia’s GSM mobile phones were the first to support consumer SMS texting.
By 1995 network traffic totaled a mere 0.4 messages per GSM customer per month. That number eventually skyrocketed and in 2010 it was estimated that 6.1 trillion SMS text messages were sent, which is an average of 193,000 SMS per second.
Today, billions of texts continue to be sent every day although mainstream text messaging has been trending towards applications such as WhatsApp, iMessage, Discord, WeChat or Telegram.