Dec 4, 2012 · 1 minute

The first text

20 years ago today, 22-year-old Neil Papworth, a communications engineer, sent the first-ever text to his friend Richard Jarvis. It was sent from a PC, and it was only two words long ("Merry Christmas") but it was the beginning of an era. Today people use SMS to communicate all kinds of Christmas greetings.


[Via Texts From Last Night]

A slow start

Eight years later, after innovations such as T9 and keyboard phones, Americans were still only sending 35 texts per month.


[Via Texts From Hillary/Kevin Lamarque]

Texting soars:


But although it took some time to catch on, by 2002 cell phone owners had found the service irresistible, sending more than 250 billion messages that year, according to Informa Telecoms and Media.

[Via Cool Material]

Twitter launches

Sometimes it's easy to forget that Twitter is based on SMS technology (hence the character limit). Of course using a public tool like Twitter to share short messages poses a big risk: What if a private message is accidentally broadcasted to the public at large? US Senator Anthony Weiner found that out the hard way:


The rise of autocorrect

Autocorrect has previously been used in Microsoft Word. But until smartphones began utilizing autocorrect, humorous autocorrect rarely left a person's computer. Now they're so prevalent that entire blogs have been launched to curate the funniest examples. Based on my entirely unscientific analysis, this is the most famous "autocorrect fail" of all time:


[Via Damn You Autocorrect]

All the President's Texts

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama chose SMS to inform the world of his Vice Presidential choice, Joe Biden.


[Image via brownpau on Flickr]

The death of texts?

As the text message turned 20 today, not everyone was celebrating. Buzzfeed's John Herrman called texting "the worst technology you still use every day," adding that it's expensive and easily hacked. And the Wall Street Journal reports that texting is in decline in major markets including China, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Spain, and Sweden.


[Via Texts From Hillary/Kevin Lamarque]

[Orginal image in illustration courtesy Valerie's Genealogy Photos]