02:39 - Source: CNN
OMG! Texting turns 20

Story highlights

The first text message was sent on December 3, 1992, and read "Merry Christmas"

8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year around the world

SMS text messaging is on the decline as more people switch to third-party tools on smartphones

CNN —  

It’s been hailed for its succinctness and blamed for everything from sore thumbs to the decline of conversation. Love it or hate it, the text message is 20 years old.

The first-ever text message was sent December 3, 1992, by software engineer Neil Papworth, to Vodafone director Richard Jarvis, who received the message on his husky Orbitel 901 cell phone. It read simply, “Merry Christmas.”

As of Monday, the text is no longer in its teens – the age group it’s probably most associated with. In fact, it’s more of a senior citizen in technology years.

At just 190 bytes and 160 characters, the modest text message isn’t the most glamorous or elaborate form of communication, and that’s a major reason it’s become so pervasive.

Texting is popular around the world, across age groups and cultures, because it is simple, concise, and compatible with every mobile device, whether it’s a $500 smartphone or a disposable flip phone.

Six billion SMS (short message service) messages are sent every day in the United States, according to Forrester Research, and over 2.2 trillion are sent a year. Globally, 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year, according to Portio Research.