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We have many options to send personal messages now on a mobile phone or smart device.

In the modern age there was always electronic mail (e-mail) if you were lucky enough to have access to a computer of some sort, perhaps one of those Amstrad E-Mailer phones that came out in 1998 that turned out a failure in the end only breaking even after 3 years of losing money on every unit that was sold. One feature of the later models was that you could play ZX Spectrum computer games on them, which is cool.

The first actual SMS was sent from Neil Papworth in 1992, he is a former developer at Sema Group Telecoms. Back then mobile phones did not have keyboards at the time, only numbers on the keypads so he sent the message from a PC with the message “Merry Christmas” and the receiver of the message to his mobile phone was Richard Jarvis at Vodafone.

SMS was apparently invented by a Finnish engineer by the name of Matti Makkonen after the idea came to him in 1984 at a conference on the future of telecommunications in Copenhagen,  unfortunately, he did not patent the idea and so did not receive a single penny.

To this day SMSs can have 160 characters of the Latin character set as well as numbers including spaces, longer messages are split up into multiple messages and the status changes to Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), it is possible to send short videos and images with this method. SMS text messages that started as a test to see if it would work have now become very popular with personal messages to friends, reminders for appointments, banking alerts,  mass spamming from marketing companies as well as verifications for mobile services taken up when texting a simple message to a number, there are also worrying trends with SMS phishing to infiltrate and exploit data and financial information.

There is also SMS spoofing which is a technology that allows for mobile phones and digital assistants to set a message that appears to come from another source by replacing the phone number (Sender ID) with alphanumeric text. Spoofing has legitimate uses like for companies that want the receivers to easily identify them as well as illegitimate uses such as faking a service or impersonating another person, company or product.

74% of mobile users are said to use SMS messages and this form of communication has become the most used global service possibly due to its simplicity and cross-compatibility on the different handsets in use today from basic to very advanced smartphones, today trillions of text messages are sent and received per year with America being the leader sending some 830 billion of them a year.

A cellular data connection is required to send normal text messages, they are different to Imessages on Apple OS that can be sent with a WIFI connection, normal SMS text messages are not encrypted and so can be hacked by packet sniffing as well as fake messages created and sent.

SMS messages nowadays don’t even need to be sent from a mobile phone, there are some utilities online that allow the facilitation of the messages to be sent from a PC. Some services even create fake or virtual numbers for this use, there are different levels of this with some requiring a subscription in some way or form.

Due to the 160 character limit constraints, text messengers have created a shorthand kind of language in an effort to squeeze in what they want to say and not use multiple messages.

Some psychologists have found that virtual communications like emails and text messages go toward prompting some to lie, this is due to not being able to read or show body language for the sender/receiver.

We all know that drinking and driving are bad but did you know that a person writing or reading text messages of any sort are twice more dangerous than a drunk person and 23 times more likely to have a crash.

SMS text messages from their infancy are now relied on as part of telecommunications in general and can have good and bad points, relationships end over a text message sometimes as well as jobs but they can also bring good news as well, a simple text message can cheer up someone’s day and takes very little time and effort…

All hail the Simple Messaging System!

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