World SMS Birthday: 6 ways texting has evolved since it was introduced

World SMS Birthday: 6 ways texting has evolved since it was introduced
Source: AP
Source: AP

On Dec. 3, text messaging celebrated its 24th birthday. Since the first short message service — or as we call it, SMS — text was sent in 1992, texting has evolved from a rarely used gimmick to one of the most dominant forms of communication. To commemorate the world SMS birthday, here are six ways texting has evolved since it was introduced.

1993: Nokia introduces the first mobile phones compatible with text messaging.

The GSM (Global System for Mobiles) devices were the first handsets that allowed users to text back and forth. To this day, GSM is the global standard for mobile communication outside of the United States.

1995: T9 predictive text is invented.

T9 — aka "text in 9 keys" — enabled devices to predict words based on the previous keys typed. The technology simplified the process of texting and helped the budding form of communication become mainstream. Texters who opted out of T9 had to tap each phone key up to three times per letter.

1997: The first mobile phone with keyboard is introduced.

Nokia introduced the 9000i communicator, which featured a full keyboard designed for text messaging. 

2002: MMS takes off commercially. 

MMS, or Multimedia Messaging Service, gained popularity in the United States with the arrival of compatible devices like the Sony Ericsson T68i. This is also when picture and video messaging first became a viable reality.

2003: Short codes are introduced in the United States.

The popular reality show American Idol began to utilize short code — five- to six-digit telephone numbers — as a system to cast votes for viewers' favorite singer. Text messages began being utilized for marketing campaigns. 

2011: Apple's iOS 5 changes the game.

The Apple iPhone had already been around since 2007, but 2011 marked the year of two major innovations: iMessage and an emoji keyboard. With iMessage, iPhone users could now send each other texts, photos, messages and more over Wi-Fi, providing an alternative to standard SMS/MMS messaging.

The emoji was first invented in Japan sometime between 1997 and 1998, but Apple's implementation of an emoji keyboard popularized the form of communication on a mainstream level. 

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Aric Suber-Jenkins

Aric is a writer covering technology. His work has appeared in Newsweek, Maxim and Brooklyn Magazine. He is based in New York and can be reached at aric@mic.com.

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