Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications

Texting Is 25 Years Old (cnet.com) 68

Readers share a report: The first text message was sent on Dec. 3, 1992, by British engineer Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis, an executive at British telecom Vodafone. Typed out on a PC, it was sent to Jarvis's Orbitel 901, a mobile phone that would take up most of your laptop backpack. Although Papworth is credited with sending the first text message, he's not the so-called father of SMS. That honor falls on Matti Makkonen, who initially suggested the idea back in 1984 at a telecommunications conference. But texting didn't take off over night. First it had to be incorporated into the then-budding GSM standard. Today, about 97 percent of smartphone owners use text messaging, according to Pew Research, and along the way, a new set of sub-languages based on abbreviations and keyboard-based imagery has evolved.

Texting Is 25 Years Old

Comments Filter:
  • As a GenXer, I could never text on a flip-phone numeric keypad. I just didn't have the patience to try to cycle through the numbers to get the letters I needed, nor could I accept that poor spelling, syntax and grammar that it required. Once we got proper QWERTY keypads I was all over it.
    • I think there was only a short time for numeric key pad experts teenagers between they years 2002-2008 so it would be people in their mid-late 20's who in an other 10 years will be all nostalgic about 8339998444664. For for us old guys, dag nabit for those new fangled devices with Q on the 7 and X on the 9. Our numeric key pads or the more traditional dials, back in the day never had Q or X.

      Hence Scrabble over the phone wasn't as fun.

      • Can confirm. I was a teen during the mentioned period, and I was an absolute tank at numpad typing. T9 autopredection was terrible, though. That was the one where you could, for example, type 44 to get "hi" instead of 44[pause]444. The only way you can come close to that level of pocket-texting these days is by learning morse code and installing a morse code keyboard... It works, but it's still not as efficient as the good ol' days.
        • You don't need to pause. You can press "Right" and go right back to hitting the 4 button but on a new character. Some older phones you had to press "Left", then "Right", but always quicker than the pause delay.
        • T9 was great, get out of here with your lies!

          • Without using T9, I could type up a novel without even having to look at my screen. With T9 there was always the risk that it would predict the wrong word and I'd have no way of knowing unless I looked.
        • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

          Can confirm. I was a teen during the mentioned period, and I was an absolute tank at numpad typing. T9 autopredection was terrible, though.

          I found it fairly reliable. The biggest mistake I saw was with its prediction for the word "plates". The phone would suggest slaves first -- making for some interesting messages about shopping I was doing.

          • I was better at just counting the presses to get the letters in my head. Without seeing my phone, I could never guarantee which word T9 was going to pick. So, in your case, I'd always end up with "Plates" instead of "Slaves"
      • I started out on the flip phone myself....and never understood texting...

        UNTIL Katrina hit. And after that, if you had a cell phone with 504 area code, you couldn't hardly get a voice call through, no matter where you were in the US, but many discovered that you could text back and forth freely.

        . It was Katina that turned me onto txt...and of course with smart phones and real keyboards, it got easier and now..it is really my preferred mode of communication on a cell phone.

        I prefer to txt 99% of the time

    • T9 worked pretty well

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      I could type English on a 9 character phone keypad about as fast as I type on SwiftKey on a touchscreen on an Android device. I think the problem is that on a touchscreen the touch errors are quite large so it's easy to hit the wrong key and have to correct it later. With T9 and a physical keyboard you're much less likely to hit the wrong key. SwiftKey is pretty good and fixing errors with one extra tap on the right word though.

      But in terms of speed I'd

    • ...nor could I accept that poor spelling, syntax and grammar that it required.

      Now wee get hour pure s pet Ling, sin tax and bad Grandma from Otto correct.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Dude, you need a spill chick.

  • in past I had to block txts to not get changed incoming ones I was paying for spam ones. Now they are part of your base plan.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Telegraphers were the first texters. They used abbreviations like WX for Weather, YL for Young Lady, HI for laughter, AGN for Again...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_code_abbreviations

    • No Eggplant?

    • Telegraphers were the first texters.

      And before we knew it, London had the problem of creepy gin-soaked sexters hanging around telegraph offices.

    • XYL Wife (ex-YL)
      YL Young lady (originally an unmarried female operator, now used for any female)

      LOL!

    • Wul, don't forget about Q-signals thar, bud.

      QSL - acknowledgement; "QSL, W4NUA Fairfax, standing bye and monitoring"
      QSO - conversation
      QRT - STFU!! also used as "I am signing out and leaving the air"

      I even had a Callbook with *Z-signals* listed. Things like
      ZUE - affirmative, roger, 10-4
      ZDG - Accuracy of following message(s) (or message...) is doubtful. Correction or confirmation will be forthcoming. (Particularly applicable in the US these days!)

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @12:42PM (#55673293)
    Curiously, the OP fails to mention that the original intended use for what we now know as Texts or SMS Messages was in fact as a means to aid troubleshooting around the cellular network.

    The mobile operators were in the process of switching over from the older, poorer quality but better-understood analogue mobile phone network, shifting to an all-digital future. The "SMS Message" came about - along with defining characteristics such as the limited message size - because that was the available "space" in the protocols which support the infrastructure.

    In essence, Text Messages were a tool for engineers to help them diagnose problems with the new network.

    The decision to actually sell them as a product was quite separate - and, as history has shown, a stroke of genius.
    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @01:10PM (#55673543)

      The decision to actually sell them as a product was quite separate - and, as history has shown, a stroke of genius.

      When digital phone networks were first introduced in Asia, texting was included for free. The messages are sent over the same bandwidth that's used to ring your phone when you get a call. Since there's rarely an incoming call at any given time, that leaves a lot of free bandwidth. So the carriers figured might as well use it for something. And since it didn't cost them anything to provide, they just threw it in as a freebie. So text messaging ended up being free in Asia and Europe.

      The U.S. had an extensive and functional analog cellular network, and that inertia made it slower to switch over to a digital cellular network. That gave the carriers time to see what features were popular in the rest of the world. That's how we ended up with 99 cent ringtones and 15 cent text messages - things that cost the carriers almost nothing to supply. There was no genius involved, only greed. If there had been more competition, prices would've dropped quicker. But alas putting together a cellular network is not a trivial task. There were only a half dozen or so carriers (true carriers, not MVNOs), and all of them decided to overcharge for texts. Still, two decades of what little competition there is has driven text prices down close to what they cost to provide - almost zero.

    • Sounds like an order wire to me. Which they could have provided themselves, as operator of the network.

  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @12:46PM (#55673325) Homepage Journal

    The crazy thing is that text messages are still a more universal platform, allowing any person with a mobile phone to message anyone else using a different service provider. The alternatives, such as Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Slack and Skype are all islands keeping communications with their borders. Even e-mail is still more universal.

    I am looking forward to the day that I can text message anyone on any platform, from any other platform. Jabber tried doing that, but from what I understand suffered from technical limitations. Maybe we need a proper 'SX' (short message exchange) field in the DNS records and IETF define an RFC for some universal platform? Then again, without a government mandate, I doubt we will see this happen.

    • The crazy thing is that text messages are still a more universal platform, allowing any person with a mobile phone to message anyone else using a different service provider.

      It wasn't always so. At first you could only send text messages to customers on your carrier. Then they started to realize that a network that can't connect to any other networks holds little value and started to work toward interoperability, but it was haphazard.

      • No GSM is GSM. Maybe the non GSM networks had issues with nonstandard SMS protocols

        • by Dominic ( 3849 )

          No, you couldn't send texts between networks, at least in the UK. I remember only being able to text other people on Orange (my network). They were all GSM. This would have been in the late nineties.

          • No, you couldn't send texts between networks, at least in the UK. I remember only being able to text other people on Orange (my network). They were all GSM. This would have been in the late nineties.

            That's my recollection, too, as an Orange user in 1995. With the 160-character limit and the awkwardness of using the keys–as well as not knowing anyone else on Orange at the time–texting seem like an oddity that I didn't expect to catch-on.

    • The crazy thing is that text messages are still a more universal platform, allowing any person with a mobile phone to message anyone else using a different service provider. The alternatives, such as Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, Hangouts, Slack and Skype are all islands keeping communications with their borders. Even e-mail is still more universal.

      Kinda-sorta "universal."

      I have an unlocked Android Samsung Galaxy S5 with Verizon firmware on the Rogers Canada network.

      My wife can send me a tex

      • Also, if there's a "group text" happening on a group of iPhones and I get dropped into it I can't participate in the group. I get some of the messages as individual texts and I can reply to that one sender.

        I suppose this is partly due to Apple going with iMessage, which ends up putting it the same well as the other closed solutions? MMS has always been a bit of a shit show from my experience. The idea was okay, but it never really seemed to evolve. Maybe IP based MMS would be the next needed iteration?

        • by tgeek ( 941867 )
          All MMS is IP based. MM1 (handset) communication is done via http. MM4 (intercarrier) occurs via modified smtp. VAS providers communicate via SOAP and/or XML. The only thing NOT strictly IP based in regards to MMS is the message waiting indicator that is delivered via SMS (and if your carrier has you connecting to an IMS core you're getting SMS via IP anyway).
  • I'm still waiting for a solution to the text messages that people send me that insist on using stupid abbreviations for actual words. We don't pay by the character to send/receive text messages any more, please use real words. Even respectable companies do that with their text messages from time to time; please don't use "R" in place of "are", "U" in place of "you", "B" in place of "be", "2" in place of "to" (or "too") or make other such idiotic assaults on our language.
    • I'm still waiting for a solution to the text messages that people send me that insist on using stupid abbreviations for actual words. We don't pay by the character to send/receive text messages any more, please use real words. Even respectable companies do that with their text messages from time to time; please don't use "R" in place of "are", "U" in place of "you", "B" in place of "be", "2" in place of "to" (or "too") or make other such idiotic assaults on our language.

      Top 5 funny retorts:
      5) sincerely, Mrs. Brossiot, Asst. Dean English Dept., Luzr U
      4) BR, old guy
      3) tl;dr
      2) now, get the hell off my lawn!
      1) STFU

    • please don't use "R" in place of "are", "U" in place of "you", "B" in place of "be", "2" in place of "to" (or "too") or make other such idiotic assaults on our language.

      If the traffic light is about to turn green, and I still have two more messages to send, then I don't have time to spell everything out.

      • If the traffic light is about to turn green, and I still have two more messages to send, then I don't have time to spell everything out.

        I hope you're being sarcastic. If you are reading and sending text messages while you are driving a car you deserve to lose your license. I have absolutely zero tolerance for anyone who believes that they can safely operate a 2 ton vehicle when they aren't looking at the road; such menaces should lose their license on the first offense and face a severe penalty.

        • I have absolutely zero tolerance for anyone who believes that they can safely operate a 2 ton vehicle when they aren't looking at the road

          I appreciate your concern, but my vehicle weighs over 4 tons, which is more than enough inertia to protect me in an accident while texting. Don't worry, I will be safe.

          • In days gone by, I would say that nobody on slashdot could be stupid enough to say that as a serious response (and hence say that you were being sarcastic). However the depths of stupid that I have seen here recently cause me to know that is no longer a safe assumption. I will hope you are being sarcastic and leave it at that.
    • stfu grmmr noob

  • that SMS made it all the way to the ripe old age of 25 without running its car into a bridge abutment while texting.

  • The idea to limite sms to something above 120characters? AFTER email and getting money for this. Hat's off :/
  • new set of sub-languages based on abbreviations and keyboard-based imagery has evolved

    ... but we do not blame texting for them. The blame is entirely on users.

  • E-mails, AIM, etc. don't work well to SMS. :(

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"

Working...