Happy birthday SMS: 3 December

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The world’s first SMS was sent on 3rd December 1992 by Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis over the Vodafone GSM network in the UK. The message was just a couple of words – “Merry Christmas“.

Papworth was part of the Short Message Service Centre (SMSC) team at Sema Group who had been contracted by Vodafone to test and integrate the software. The message was sent from a PC and NOT a phone! It was received on a Orbitel 901 handset by Richard Jarvis, who was enjoying a Christmas party at office.

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Vodafone had initially thought of SMS as a paging service. No one had pictured that the technology would become so popular and mainstream in the near future. And that happened only years later, when regular handsets had evolved to send and receive SMS and users could transmit messages across different networks.

By the way, Neil Papworth didn’t invent SMS though he played a very important part in testing the software and, obviously, sending the first message.