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Happy 20th birthday, text messaging

Text messaging on a cellphone
Text messaging on a cellphone

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Twenty years ago today, the first-ever text message was sent to a mobile phone from a software engineer at European cell carrier Vodaphone. From its humble beginnings, text messaging has expanded into a primary mode of contact – a peak of over six trillion texts were sent worldwide in 2010, an average of 200,000 texts each minute.

But with smartphones and mobile data plans rapidly taking over the cell phone market, mobile messaging is changing. The text message may only be 20 years old, and it may already be aging out of the market. Comprehensive data plans make email and apps for instant messaging cheaper, easier, and more appealing – text messaging packages still carry an additional fee.

How do you do your mobile messaging? Can the text message hold onto its youth, or will it be eclipsed by other modes of communication?


Janet Sternberg, Ph.D., Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University