It has saved lives and ruined marriages, created a whole new dialect and made billions in profits for phone companies. But as the text message celebrates its 20th birthday, some wonder how much longer it will survive in a world of smartphones and free web-based messaging services.
The first text message was sent on 3 December 1992, when the 22-year-old British engineer Neil Papworth used his computer to wish a “Merry Christmas” to Richard Jarvis, of Vodafone, on his Orbitel 901 mobile phone. However it wasn’t until 1993 that a reply could be sent.
Now we send 8 trillion a year, and around 15 million leave our mobile screens every minute. It’s the most common way for friends and family to exchange information.
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What do you prefer, texting or calling?