Happy (Almost) Birthday, Texting!

Katelyn Fernandez | 9:36 PM

The first text message was sent by Neil Papworth, a British engineer, on December 3, 1992. Sent from his own PC due to the nonexistent cell phone keyboard, Papworth texted the traditional holiday greeting, "Merry Christmas" to Richard Jarvis, who happened to be at a festive event at the time (Marino). Originally, texting was used as a paging system for secretaries to contact their managers. In the words of Papworth himself, though, there are many "innovative applications that rely on text messaging" today.

However, it was not until the end of the 90s when texting exploded in popularity amongst the Brits. The top four telecommunication companies in the United Kingdom all had the mindset that the general public preferred telephoning over SMS services. In 1999, the belief vanished and competition between the companies fired, allowing customers access to the ICT by charging per text message (McVeigh). The trend then expanded into various parts of the world, most notably the United States. Although it took long for text messaging to reach North America, it, too, gained popularity. Today, the country with the heaviest use of text messaging happens to be the Philippines as mobile phone subscriptions are vastly used by thousands of people.

Other than communication, texting has been used for a variety of purposes, from voting for American Idol to sending data on patient's use of certain drugs to researchers to common advertising (Stewart). With the sending of a simple Christmas greeting, a phenomenon was born and over time, evolved in different ways such as applications like Viber and WhatsApp. The only thing to do now is see how texting affects society, whether it be on language or driving, because with all great inventions, there always happens to be a flaw. For now, however, it is a time to celebrate texting's upcoming 23rd birthday and all the benefits it gave the world.

Works Cited

Marino, Kristin. "Text Talk - Infographic." Online Schools. OnlineSchools.com, 19 October 2012. Web. 2 November 2015.

McVeigh, Tracy. "Text messaging turns 20." The Observer. The Guardian, 2012. Web. 27 November 2015.

Stewart, Alan. "Text messaging." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 27 November 2015.