Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the World’s First Text Message

Learn a little about the history of text messaging on the 30th anniversary of the first text ever sent!

Celebratory image
December 1, 2022
Marco Raye
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Reading time about 5 min

Over the decades, text messaging has continuously evolved to seamlessly integrate into our day-to-day communications. Today, our mobile devices are extensions of ourselves, used to communicate everything from when we eat, work, play, travel, and even sleep. We rely heavily on them, returning home should we leave the house without them, knowing we will not be able to function properly without the convenience and connectivity they afford us regardless (mostly) of where we may roam.

So, join us in celebrating this industry milestone with a brief stroll through the history of text messaging to learn where it started and how it’s grown from a concept into a daily practice worldwide.

History of Text Messaging

Neil Papworth is credited with inventing the text message after sending the words "Merry Christmas" to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone on December 3rd, 1992. At the time, many people would have been hard-pressed to believe that 30 years later, a digital copy of that same SMS text message would sell at an auction in Paris by Vodafone for a whopping $121,000!

Image of first text message that read Merry Christmas

Text messaging has undoubtedly grown into America's sweet spot of preferred communication channels, and rightfully so as mobile devices have become a staple. We work, chat, shop, and workout with them. We FaceTime, Instagram, Venmo, and Google search with them. More than ever, consumers rely on their smartphones to find deals and make purchases. So, it makes sense that we use text messaging capabilities to stay connected with the people, causes, and brands we love while we cradle our mobile devices.

Let’s take a look at the evolution of text messaging over the years:

Famous Text Messages

Since Neil Papworth sent the first text message ever in 1992, there have been many famous texts that mark significant events. Here are a few.

2008 Barack Obama mass text.

“Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee.”

August 2008

Then future President Barack Obama’s campaign took a future-forward approach to reach voters by announcing his running mate, Joe Biden, to nearly three million people via mass SMS text messaging. The message “branded (Obama) as cutting edge,” according to Nielsen Mobile.

Space nebula – to infinity and beyond.

“Hello from Earth.”

August 2009

A group of Australian scientists attempts contacting an alien being by sending the first text messages to outer space. Exactly where did those texts go? To Gliese 581, a speculated area of life-supporting matter, which will receive the texts around 2029.

World record holder.

"The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality, they seldom attack a human."

May 2014

Guinness Book of Records, anyone? This text is used to challenge speed texters. Marcel Fernandes Filho from Brazil typed this text message on a smartphone in 18.19 seconds, smashing the previous record of 35.54 seconds set by an employee of Swype's predictive text app.

Evolution of texting timeline from 1993-2022

Text Messaging in the Modern Day and Beyond

The reality of text messaging is that, as a channel, it offers significantly more opportunities to nurture and scale connectivity with others. We use text messaging to communicate so many things; it begs us to wonder what's next—personalized holographic messages? Only the future holds those secrets, but for now SMS and MMS messaging will reign supreme across communication channels because it’s intimate, personal, and direct.

How EZ Texting Can Grow Your Business

Use text messaging to breathe new life into your marketing communication strategy. Contact us today with questions about texting best practices or if you’re ready to get started with a free trial!

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