Happy 25th birthday, mobile texting!

April 4, 2017 Thomas F. Jung


This year mobile text messaging celebrates its 25th birthday. Many things have happened since 1992 when the first text (in history) was sent.  Since then, texting truly has become a cultural phenomenon, and it has undoubtedly changed the way people communicate, both among themselves, and with companies.

But how did it emerge in the first place? Let’s see.

A short history of texting

This may surprise you, but sending textual messages might be older than you realize.

The first telex service was introduced back in 1933 in New York, and it can be considered the great-grandfather of texting. Telex is a point-to-point network and a system of telex numbers which could send text-based messages.

After that, the roots of texting are found in radio-telegraphic numeric messages which have been sent throughout 1971 using ALOHAnet.

In 1984, Friedhelm Hillebrand conceptualized SMS* and together with Bernard Ghillebaert of France Telecom wrote a proposal for a GSM meeting, which met in 1985 in Oslo. This opened the door for the development of SS7, or the Signaling System No. 7, which sent 160-character data coded in ITU-T “T.56” text format, allowing GSM to be based on this system.

After years of implementing the system, on December 3, 1992, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer in the UK, sent the first text message saying “Merry Christmas” from his PC to the phone of Richard Jarvis (because back then phones did not have keyboards).

And so it began…

Texting – the leading means of communication

Nokia was the first mobile phone which was able to send SMS. The first text messages were free. The first SMS service operator which offered commercial person-to-person texting was called Radiolinja, and it was offered in Finland in 1995, “so that the Finns could talk more” – as their slogan stated.

In the United States, the first text messaging carrier was American Personal Communications (APC) which was founded in 1995 and operated under the name Sprint Spectrum in Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. During the same year, the T9 system was launched.

In 1997, Nokia launched 9000i Communicator – the first mobile phone with a QWERTY keyboard.

At the turn of the century, texting quickly became popular, and by 2002 it exploded with more than 250 billion texts sent around the world.

A small dictionary of texting terms

New vocabulary emerged as texting grew.  Not just alternative spellings of words and acronyms which the youngsters often used, but also new words which referred to specific notions.

Here is a small glossary of texting terms arranged in alphabetical order.

  • Emoji. Refer to digital facial expressions or emotions, and are direct descendants of emoticons.
  • Emoticon. Refers to facial expressions expressed with keyboard characters, such as a colon and closing bracket sign, :). Back in the 1990s and at the beginning of 2000s, emoticons were largely used until emoji appeared on multicolored screens.
  • GSM. Acronym for Groupe Special Mobile, or Global System for Mobile Communications, refers to the standard developed by ETSI in 1991 in Oslo which described protocols for the usage of the second generation (2G) of mobile phones (digital cellular networks).
  • MMS. Short for “Multimedia Message Service.” MMS refers to digital images, sounds (audio files), and videos which can be sent via text messaging.
  • SMS. Synonym for a “text message” or “text”. It is short for “Short Message Service,” the original form of texting. The term SMS is usually used in most of mainland Europe.
  • Text messaging. Refers to sending textual messages, or SMS, from one mobile phone to another.
  • Text. Short for a “text message” (or “SMS”) in the North America, UK, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.
  • Texter. A sender (or recipient) of a text message; a person who uses texting as a means of communication.
  • Texting. Refers to the habit of sending text messages between people or companies, for personal or business purposes.
  • 160 characters. The number of characters which the first SMS messages contained per text. The number was determined by Friedhelm Hillebrand in 1984 when he conceptualized SMS. “Sitting at a typewriter at home, Hillebrand typed out random sentences and counted every letter, number, punctuation, and space. Almost every time, the messages contained fewer than 160 characters, thus giving the basis for the limit one could type via text messaging.” (Source: The Week)

Texting improves communication between customers and businesses


By 2017, and its 25th birthday, texting has become a preferred means of communication between customers and businesses. Texting demographics show that every age group texts: both young and old. Furthermore, texting is the most used feature on a smartphone according to an Experian study.

Statistic Brain reports that more than 561 billion texts were sent every month worldwide by June 2014 by more than 4 billion people globally (Guardian 2012). In the US, over 6 billion texts were sent on a daily basis in 2011 (Forrester) by 83% of adult Americans who text regularly (Pew Research).  Surely these numbers have grown even further since the research is many years old.

With all this data at hand, one cannot help but think about the power of text messaging in businesses and car dealerships.

Texting has, indeed, made it much easier to delegate and perform tasks while being busy. It has also proven to increase the customer experience.


So, if you are looking for a text messaging app to use at your car dealership – see what AdvantageTec can do for you. Just text “DEMO” to (415) 429-5588 to learn more about advantage txt.

Msg & Data rates may apply 😉

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