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Texting Anniversary: ​​Texting Through the Ages: The first text message was sent 30 years ago

Texting Anniversary: ​​Texting Through the Ages: The first text message was sent 30 years ago

Whistle beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep point. This tune has conquered the world since 1992. Behind it is SMS Morse Code, the short message service that celebrates its 30th anniversary on December 3rd. British software developer Neil Papworth was then able to send the world’s first SMS on behalf of Vodafone. He experimented with the new transmission technology 30 years ago (December 3, 1992) and sent the famous 14 letters Merry Christmas (Happy Birthday) from his computer to the mobile phone of Vodafone CEO Richard Jarvis.

At that time, very few people realized that they had created an entirely new form of communication. Because in the early 1990s, mobile phones were still very uncommon and writing letters was uncommon. That changed by the turn of the millennium, because at the time five cell phone companies were courting customers with free cell phones, making the cell phone an everyday companion.

After that, the number of text messages increased every year and reached a record 8.4 billion messages sent in 2012. Only then was SMS gradually replaced by messaging services such as WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram. As data from communications regulator RTR shows, 83 percent of the population uses WhatsApp at least once a month. However, SMS defended the second position. 69 percent of the population uses SMS at least once a month. Facebook Messenger, which 31 percent of people use at least once a month, ranks third. Telegram is up to 14 percent and Signal is up to 12 percent. In a professional context, Microsoft Teams also plays a role.

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Messenger on the rise

However, if you look not at the monthly usage, but at the number of messages, SMS is clearly lagging behind. People between the ages of 14 and 29 send an average of 110.3 messages per day via messaging services, but only eight text messages. With 12.2 daily messages, Messenger is also ahead of SMS (5.3 daily messages) among the over 60s.

But the SMS is not over yet. In 2021, 1.5 billion messages were sent in Austria. They are used for bank and credit card payments, among other things, and are also used to communicate with devices, so-called M2M applications. In addition, SMS also plays a central role as a warning system. You can send an SMS to 112 to make an emergency call. In addition, the authorities can use the SMS service to warn residents of environmental hazards and storms.

Back in the starting blocks

With RCS (Rich Communication Services), mobile operators have already developed their own successor to the SMS service, which also provides encryption. However, RCS has never been able to truly establish itself. This is mainly due to the fact that RCS is only supported on Google’s Android platform. Apple uses its own SMS successor for the iPhone with iMessage, which is not compatible with RCS.

This will not change in the foreseeable future. Apple chief Tim Cook recently rejected the RCS standard at a conference: “I can’t imagine our users asking us to put so much energy into it.”