Text Messaging Turns 20, Will It Survive Another Two Decades?

Paul Lilly

It seems hard to believe, but text messaging is 20 years old today. British software engineer, Neil Papworth, sent the very first text message on this day in 1992. That message read, "Merry Christmas," and it was sent to Richard Jarvis, then a director at Vodafone, which was interested in developing the technology as a superior alternative to paging, though the company and all involved never imagined it would become this popular.

Papworth stated on BBC radio that Vodafone initially thought text messaging would be "used as an executive pager so that secretaries could get hold of their bosses while they were out and about," Phys.org reports . Times have certainly changed, haven't they? Nowadays text messaging is used for all types of communication, from hammering down lunch plans to even breaking up with a significant other (that's bad form, folks).

"It was good for business when it took off because we sold more systems, but it was also quite amazing to see how many people use it and the range of applications people have found for it," Papworth said.

Amazing indeed, but some are wondering if text messaging's best days are now behind it.

"Texting isn't evolving, therefore it's declining," Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told ABC News . "There are way too many alternatives like iMessage, BBM, Facebook Chat, and Google Chat that are cross-platform that texting is a backup now for sophisticated users. Texting is more reliable but is declining as a primary tool."

There's also the issue of cost. Carriers are still charging for text messages, whether it's per message or an unlimited allotment as part of a higher tier wireless plan.

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