Evolution of Text Messaging and RCS
Kyle Kuczynski
Kyle Kuczynski
MessageDesk Co-Founder & CMO
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
yellow blog header

History of Text Messaging Timeline - The Evolution of Text Messaging and Rich Communication Services (RCS)

It's been over 25 years since the first text message was sent in 1992. Text messaging is now an integral part of day-to-day communications. We now send 23 billion text messages every day. Below is the complete history of text messaging presented as a timeline. Discover how text messaging is evolving from 160 characters of SMS and MMS to RCS.

Frequently Asked Text Message History Questions:

  • When was text messaging invented?

    SMS text messaging was technically invented in 1984. But text messaging really began to start taking off in 1999 when users started texting across different carrier networks.

  • Who invented text messaging?

    Neil Papworth is credited with inventing the text message. He send the first text message "Merry Christmas" to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone in 1992.

  • When was the first text message sent?

    The first text message was sent on December 3rd, 1992 from Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis.

  • When was the first texting phone invented?

    The first true texting phone came out in 1997 when Nokia released the 90001 communicator with a full QWERTY keyboard.

  • How many text messages are sent everyday?

    At last count we send roughly 23 billion text messages everyday, globally. On average, American adults send and receive 18 billion texts every day, 541 billion texts every month, and 6.5 trillion texts every year.

Suggested Article: Text Statistics: A Complete List of Text Messaging Facts, Stats and Insights

Early Text Messaging


1984 - Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert of The Franco-German GSM cooperation develop the modern text message.

1992 - Neil Papworth, a former developer at Sema Group Telecoms sends the first text message - "Merry Christmas" to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone.

1993 - Nokia becomes the first cell phone manufacturer with an SMS short message service.

1994 - Phone networks begin offering person-to-person (P2P) SMS text messaging with limited texts per month.

1994 - IBM launches Simon, the world’s first "smartphone" with a touchscreen.

1995 - Cliff Kushler, co-founder of Tegic invents T9, "Text on 9 keys." The technology uses letters and numbers to display words from a single keypress.

1997 - Nokia releases the 9000i Communicator. The first cell phone with a full QWERTY keyboard.

1999 - Users start exchanging text messages between different networks. Cross-network text messaging makes it possible for everyone to send text messages.

1999 - 5 and 6 digit shortcodes invented for bulk SMS text message delivery.

2003 - American Idol utilizes shortcode text messaging as part of the first “Text to Vote” campaign.

Modern Text Messaging


June 2007 - First iPhone released.

June 2007 - Advent of RCS.

February 2008 - GSMA becomes project home for RCS.

May 2009 - WhatsApp Founded.

2010 - “Texting” is officially added to the dictionary as a verb.

2011 - Cliff Kushler invents Swype, enabling smartphone users with touchscreens to drag their fingers to connect the dots between letters in a word.

February 2015 - Social media giant, Facebook acquires WhatsApp.

April 2015 - Google launches Project Fi, later known as Google Fi - a phone plan by Google.

The Evolution of Text Messaging and RCS - Rich Communication Services

Suggested Article: The Guide to Rich Communication Services (RCS)


September 2015 - Google acquires Jibe Mobile and announces on it's blog their commitment to RCS as “the latest standard in carrier messaging.”

September 2016 - Google releases Allo. An instant messaging mobile app that utilizes phone numbers as identifiers and allows users to exchange messages, files, voice notes and images.

November 2016 - GSMA releases RCS Universal Profile 1.0. The release includes core features such as capability discovery with compatibility between regions. It also includes chat, group chat, file transfer, audio messaging, video share, multi-device, enriched calling, location share and live sketching.

November 2016 - Google announces a partnership with Sprint to bring RCS to all android devices on its network via the Messenger App for Android and the Google Jibe platform.

January 2017 - The CTIA updates Application-to-Person A2P messaging standards in preparation for the use of 10 DLC (10-digit long codes) as bulk text messaging phone numbers.

February 2017 - Google rebrands Messenger. The default texting app on all Android devices becomes Android Messages.

July 2017 - RCS Universal Profile 2.0 Released. This release includes Messaging as a Platform (MaaP), APIs, plug-in integration, improved authentication, and greater app security.

December 2017 - RCS Universal Profile 2.1 Released.

May 2018 - RCS Universal Profile 2.2 Released.

June 2018 - T-Mobile adopts RCS Universal Profile 1.0.

November 2018 - Google rebrands it's phone plan, Project Fi as Google Fi. It adds support for iPhones.

December 2018 - RCS Universal Profile 2.3 Released.

December 2018 - FCC classifies texting as an information service, not a telecom service.

January 2019 - Google announces the launch of RCS on the Google Fi network.

March 2019 - Google shuts down Allo. It then transfers the team to work on RCS features.

June 2019 - Google announces it will begin opting in subscribers to use RCS within its own native Messages app. This works around having to wait for carrier support. Subscribers in the UK and France are first to receive the RCS opt-in option.

July 2019 - CTIA releases A2P 10DLC commercial best practices guidelines.

August 2019 - Verizon becomes the first Tier 1 carrier to roll out a commercial 10DLC product.

October 2019- The big four telecom providers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon issue a joint press release stating their intention to roll out RCS across their networks. They call the initiative CCMI, short for the “Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative.”

October 2019 - RCS Universal Standard 2.4 Released. The release removes plug-in integration and includes integrated seamless web views.

November 2019 - Google begins rolling out RCS to Android users in the UK and France.

December 2019 - Google finishes rollout of RCS to all Android users in the U.S ahead of schedule.

Q1 2020 - AT&T, Sprint, & T-Mobile set to release their own commercial 10DLC products.

Get weekly messaging tips and tricks

Join 3000+ businesses who are growing and gaining knowledge.