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 a brief history of text messaging and smartphones with answers to frequently asked questions.
SMS text messaging was invented in 1984. The SMS concept was first developed in the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert.
Text messaging started in 1999 when users started texting across different carrier networks. By the year 2000 text messaging became popular. Message volumes were averaging around 35 texts per person per month in the U.S.
Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert invented SMS text messaging as a concept at the Franco-German GSM cooperation in 1984.
The first text message was sent on December 3rd, 1992. Neil Papworth sent the first text message "Merry Christmas" to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone.
The first true texting phone came out in 1997 when Nokia released the 90001 Communicator with a full QWERTY keyboard.
At last count, people send roughly 23 billion text messages every day, globally. On average, American adults send and receive 18 billion texts every day. That's 541 billion texts every month and 6.5 trillion texts every year.
Alexander Graham Bell won the first U.S. patent for the phone in 1876. But the Italian innovator Antonio Meucci is credited with inventing the first basic phone in 1849. Frenchman Charles Bourseul also devised a phone in 1854.
The first handheld cell phone (The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X) came out in 1983. It was the first handheld cell phone that allowed people to make long-distance calls.
The first ever clamshell flip phone was the Motorola StarTAC, first released on January 3, 1996.
IBM invented the world's first smartphone in 1992. They called it the Simon Personal Communicator (SPC).
The first touchscreen smartphone was released in 1994 when IBM took the Simon Personal Communicator to the market.
The first smartphone, the Simon Personal Communicator (SPC) cost $1100.
The IBM Simon Personal Communicator was also the first touchscreen phone. Developed in 1992 and released in 1994.
Smartphones became popular in 2007 with Steve Jobs and the release of Apple’s iPhone. Many consider it the first fully realized smartphone. The term “smartphone” became commonplace as smartphones themselves became more affordable and accessible throughout the 2000s.
The iPhone was not the first smartphone. But Apple and its iPhone are credited with popularizing smartphones in 2007 with the release of the iPhone 2G, iPhone 1, or original iPhone.
Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert of The Franco-German GSM cooperation develop the modern text message.
Neil Papworth, a former developer at Sema Group Telecoms sends the first text message - "Merry Christmas" to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone.
Nokia becomes the first cellular phone manufacturer to support sending text messages.
Mobile phone networks begin offering person-to-person (P2P) SMS text messaging.
IBM launches Simon, the world’s first smartphone with a touchscreen.
Cliff Kushler, co-founder of Tegic invents T9, "Text on 9 keys." The predictive text technology displays words with a single key press.
Nokia releases the 9000i Communicator. The first mobile device with a full QWERTY keyboard.
Users start exchanging text messages between different networks. Cross-network text messaging makes it possible for businesses to start texting with their customers.
5 and 6-digit shortcodes were invented for bulk text messaging.
American Idol utilizes shortcode text blasts as part of the first “Text to Vote” campaign.
SMS undergoes a technical evolution with SIM toolkit data download, enhanced messaging service, voice mail management, and language tables (in SMG/3GPP).
The first modern smartphone, the iPhone is released.
Rich Communication Services (RCS) is invented.
The HTC Dream is unveiled, making it the first commercial Android phone with an Android operating system.
GSMA becomes project home for RCS
“Texting” is officially added to the dictionary as a verb.
Cliff Kushler invents Swype. This enables smartphone users with touchscreens to drag their fingers to connect the dots between numbers and letters to create words.
Facebook announces its intention to acquire WhatsApp.
Google launches Project Fi, later known as Google Fi - a phone plan by Google.
Google acquires Jibe Mobile and announces on its blog its commitment to RCS as “the latest standard in carrier messaging.”
Google releases Allo, an instant messaging mobile app. Allo utilizes phone numbers as identifiers and allows users to exchange messages, files, voice notes, and images.
GSMA releases RCS Universal Profile 1.0. The release includes core features including:
Google announces a partnership with Sprint. Both companies plan to bring RCS to all android devices on their networks. Their roll-out is for the Messenger App for Android and the Google Jibe platform.
The CTIA updates Application-to-Person A2P standards. This is in preparation for the use of 10 DLC (10-digit long codes) as bulk text messaging phone numbers.
Google rebrands Messenger, the default texting app on all Android devices, as Android Messages. This is in preparation for RCS and more advanced messaging functionality.
RCS Universal Profile 2.0 Released. This release includes Messaging as a Platform (MaaP), APIs, plug-in integration, improved authentication, and greater app security.
RCS Universal Profile 2.1 Released
Apple Business Chat was initially launched in 2018. It has since been rebranded as Apple Messages for Business.
RCS Universal Profile 2.2 Released
T-Mobile adopts RCS Universal Profile 1.0
Google rebrands its phone plan Project Fi as Google Fi and adds support for iPhones.
RCS Universal Profile 2.3 Released
FCC classifies texting as an information service, not a telecom service
Google announces the launch of RCS on the Google Fi network.
Google shutters Allo and transfers the team to work on its wider RCS implementation.
Verizon becomes the first Tier 1 carrier to roll out a commercial 10DLC product.
Google announces it will begin opting in subscribers to use RCS within its own native Messages app. This circumvents the need to wait for carrier-specific deployments. Subscribers in the UK and France are the first to receive the RCS opt-in option.
The CTIA releases A2P 10DLC commercial best practices guidelines.
The big four telecom providers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon issued a joint press release. This press release states their intention to roll out RCS across their networks. They call the initiative CCMI, short for the “Cross-Carrier Messaging Initiative.”
RCS Universal Standard 2.4 Released. The release removes plug-in integration and includes integrated seamless web views.
Google begins rolling out RCS to Android users in the UK and France.
Google finishes rollout of RCS to all Android users in the U.S ahead of schedule.
AT&T, Sprint, & T-Mobile reportedly release commercial 10DLC products.
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