22 years SMS short message system
22 years ago, on December 3, 1992, Neil Papworth, a young engineer, sent his colleague Richard Jarvis a Merry Christmas. And this would not be so important if this message was not the first SMS in the world. But then, 22 years ago, no one could have imagined how important the short messages in the communications world would be.
SMS now brings billions in revenue to telecommunications companies around the world. In 2016, it is estimated that more than 9 trillion messages will be transmitted. And in '92, the first message was the result of seven years of developing a standard for messaging. In 1985, the German engineer Friedhelm Hillebrand, who was chairman of the committee for developing non-voice services for the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), was received to develop a text messaging system over cellular networks. At that time, cell phones were only in cars.
Hillebrand with a team of engineers came up with the idea of using an existing radio channel for messaging, which was used only to transmit information about signal strength to telephones, and was idle most of the time. In an interview from 2009He told the LA Times: “We needed a cheap implementation. On this channel, most of the time nothing happens - it was just the free capacity of the system. "
First, the team managed to shove up to 128 characters in one message. This seemed to them not enough, and switching to 7-bit coding, they increased their number to 160. There was no marketing research at that time on this topic, so the engineers tried to empirically find out if 160 characters were enough for a short message. Having studied the typical postcards of that time and messages transmitted via the Telex system (which did not have technical limitations, but nonetheless, the length of messages usually did not exceed this limit), they decided that 160 would be “absolutely enough”.
In addition, an inconvenient system with the location of several letters on the same button on the phone, in the absence of predictive typing algorithms such as T9, clearly indicated that there was no need to transmit long texts. Papworth said in an interview with TechCrunch : “We tested the system with 160 characters, but who needs more characters to send a message like“ If you are not at home in 20 minutes, your dinner is in the dog ”? Moreover, T9 did not exist then. ”
Oddly enough, it now looks like it took quite a while for mobile operators to figure out the possible profits from this technology, especially from fees from messages sent between different networks, and not just use it to notify you of voicemail. And the technology quickly gained popularity and became the main means of communication among adolescents in the 90s and 00s. And still, despite the availability of the Internet in every smartphone and the abundance of different messengers, if you need a guarantee that your message will reach any of your friends and relatives - SMS is still out of competition.