Wednesday, February 24News For London

Mobile phone addiction began 25 years ago

The first text message that was sent actually used full words rather than text-speak.

The first SMS was sent 25 years ago on the 3rd December 1992. A quarter of a century ago a British test engineer, Neil Papworth, typed the first text message which said, “Merry Christmas”. It launched into a success with smartphones that some reports suggest might even have become an addiction.

The first SMS message was sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom using a personal computer. It originated from radio telegraphy in radio memo pagers. The initial growth was slow, with GSM customers in 1995 sending on average 0.4 messages per month. But by 2006, over 205 million messages were sent in the UK alone.

Did Neil Papworth have any idea at the time that analysts expect 7.89 trillion texts to be sent across the UK this year?

The rise and fall of SMS in the UK. (Image: Ofcom/Statista, 2017)

Can SMS be considered to be the first step towards the modern smartphone? When Twitter launched in 2006, it originally adopted SMS’s 140-character limit. Two months ago, they decided to double this limit to 280 characters. This shows a representation of the continuance of modern digital addictions. According to Harvard Health addictions take-over the brain and we get a flood of dopamine that makes us feel great when we interact with our digital companion but in the long term we are building a tolerance and craving more.

Research conducted by British psychologists shows a phenomenon of behavioural addictions where young adults are impulsively spending an average of four hours a day bound to their mobile phones. Technology has us all hooked and is only getting worse as the apps on our phones are detrimentally bottomless.

This is not the end for SMS, it still has a future because you don’t need to ask for the Wi-Fi code!