On December 3, 1992, Neil Papworth sent the first-ever text message: “Merry Christmas.” Papworth, a 22-year-old British software engineer, sent a season’s greetings to his friend Richard Jarvis, who was at a Christmas party for the phone company Vodafone.
Neil Papworth’s holiday text message was actually sent from his personal computer. At the time, cell phones couldn’t type and send letters from the alphabet. They could receive messages, however, and that’s how Richard Jarvis’s phone buzzed with the world’s very first SMS, or Short Message Service.
Cell phones wouldn’t be able to send texts for another couple of years after, however. Manufacturers had to design new phones, and phone companies had to come up with new billing plans.
Text messaging grew slowly in the late 1990s, but after the turn of the century it became a cell phone staple. In 2011, an average of nearly 6 billion text messages were sent each day. Today, SMS is used for much more than conversations - they can warn about emergencies and even function as a payment platform for business and charities.