The text message turns 20 today

Gosh we feel old/young/average

The first ever text message was sent 20 years ago today, an appropriately festive communique reading "Merry Christmas".

Neil Papworth sent that fateful text, then 22 years old (now 42, maths fans) he sent it from a computer to an Orbitel 901 handset.

To celebrate the text message's 20th, Ofcom has done a bit of research into its illustrious history, finding that we now send around 50 text messages a week each.

In 2011, that added up to over 150 billion texts sent over the course of the year - compared to 51 billion texts sent in 2006, that's quite a leap.

However, texting seems to be on the out - the first half of 2012 showed two consecutive quarterly declines in the volume of SMS messages sent which Ofcom puts down to the rise of instant messaging, email and social networking.

Still, it's not been a bad innings for the little text message that could - James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research explains that, "When texting was first conceived, many saw it as nothing more than a niche service."

And it certainly broke free of those shackles. Happy birthday text messaging. Or, in vernacular it will understand: hppy bday txtmsg.


News Editor (UK)

It's a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she's constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. And having been immersed in the world of tech and tech rumours for more than six years, she can spot a photoshopped iPhone 8 image from 20 paces.