Short Message/Messaging Service, commonly known as SMS, is a text messaging component integral to most telephone, Internet, and mobile device systems. It employs standardized communication protocols, allowing mobile devices to exchange brief text messages. The origins of SMS technology can be traced back to radio telegraphy in radio memo pagers, which utilized standardized phone protocols. These protocols were defined in 1986 as part of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) series of standards.
The first-ever SMS was sent on 3 December 1992 by Neil Papworth, a test engineer for Sema Group. He sent the message “Merry Christmas” to the Orbitel 901 phone of his colleague, Richard Jarvis. By the end of 2010, SMS had become the most widely used data application, boasting an estimated 3.5 billion active users, which equated to about 80% of all mobile phone subscribers at the time.
SMS has a rich history, with its initial concept dating back to the early 1980s. The idea was to add text messaging functionality to mobile devices. The SMS concept was further developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984. The primary idea behind SMS was to use the telephone-optimized system and transport messages during periods when no signalling traffic existed. This approach allowed for the efficient use of unused resources in the system to convey messages at a minimal cost.
Over the years, SMS has faced competition from Internet Protocol-based messaging services like RCS, Apple’s iMessage, and various other platforms available on smartphones with internet connections. However, its simplicity, ubiquity, and directness have ensured its continued relevance in the world of communication.