Don’t blame me for txtspk, says sender of first SMS (Q&A)

What hath God wrought? Neil Papworth sent the first SMS in 1992.

(Credit: Neil Papworth)

Ppl! Txting is 20 yrs old! Thats soo GR8!

Depending on your perspective, you might thank or blame Matti Makkonen, the pioneer of texting, for how it changed human communication.

Just don’t shoot the first texter.

Neil Papworth is the British-born engineer who actually sent the first text message, 20 years ago today. Typed out on a PC, it was sent to a Richard Jarvis of Vodafone and read: Merry Christmas.

Papworth was working as an engineer at Sema Group Telecoms, which was developing a Short Message Service Centre (SMSC) for Vodafone UK. It was conceived as a paging service, hardly the mammoth new form of communication it has become. With some 8 trillion texts sent in 2011, SMS has evolved to become a new set of sub-languages.

Papworth’s career as a software developer took him around the world, and now he lives in Montreal and works as a software architect for mobile services firm Tekelec. I asked him for some reflections, which he shared over e-mail.

Q: What did it feel like to send the first SMS 20 years ago today? Feels good! And seems li… [Read more]

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