On This Day In History, Dec. 3, 1992, The First Text Message Is Sent
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People across the world send text messages every day — often multiple times a day.
The simple act of typing on a keyboard (no matter how small that keyboard may be) and hitting “send” is now second nature in the 21st century,
But once upon a time, it was just a novel idea.
On this day in history, Dec. 3, 1992, the first text message was sent in the United Kingdom.
Neil Papworth was a 22-year-old engineer from Reading, U.K., who grew up studying computing.
After working to develop a movable vehicle satellite antenna, he moved to work for Sema Group Telecoms in 1991, according to his website.
He was part of a team that was developing a short message service for its customer Vodafone U.K.
The company sent Papworth on a site visit to attempt the paging service.
“[I] was chosen to go to their site to install, integrate and test the software, and get it all working,” he said in a website statement.
At the time, handheld devices did not have a keyboard, nor the ability for a user to send written messages through the device.
Because of this, Papworth used a computer to type out the first message: “Merry Christmas.”
“I typed the message on a computer keyboard and sent it to an Orbitel 901 handset. Those things were enormous,” he said in a statement.
He sent the test message to Richard Jarvis, a director at the telecommunications operator Vodafone U.K., who was attending a Christmas office party, according to Papworth’s website.
The message was successfully sent — and Papworth became the first person to ever send a text message.
Although the groundbreaking software success occurred in 1992, text messaging didn’t take off for years due to a lack of handheld keyboards.
Papworth now lives in Montreal with his wife and three children and works for a different software company — Oracle.
Many find it hard to believe that the can’t-live-without messaging system was successfully created just 30 years ago.