Little did Neil Papworth realise that the trend he had set rolling would snowball to become such a hit in the years to follow. Papworth, a software engineer from Reading, had typed a Christmas greeting to his friend, Richard Jarvis of Vodafone – it read ‘Merry Christmas’; Jarvis was at his office Christmas party at that time. 

The date was December 3, 1992 and Papworth had sent to his friend, the first ever SMS. It has been 20 years now since the humble SMS first entered the scene, and in a noticeably short period, it achieved great popularity. The short messaging service, or SMS as it is now popularly referred to, soon became a preferred choice of communication with the masses, for its sheer convenience among other things. 

Really fast texting

Happy Birthday SMS!

But, are we celebrating?

Amidst all the noise about the SMS completing 20 years of its existence, one can’t help but think – are we celebrating? Times have dynamically changed since the SMS first came, and it is not difficult to miss that the SMS is now slowly fading into the background. With the current breed of masses fast moving towards being tech savvy, free messaging services, like Whatsapp, BBM, Google Talk have got at the forefront of the race. Services like these are available to users at no cost and offer convenience just like SMS. 

India and 200+ SMSes

In India, however, the SMS limit has been capped to stop it from exceeding 200 SMSes per day, per SIM thanks to all the hooplah over pesky telemarketing SMSes. While it may have helped harried users escape some peskiness, it forced others who loved sending incessant SMSes to their friends and loved ones to look elsewhere. In July this year, there was some noise about the Delhi HC doing away with that limit. 

In fact, Google recently rolled out Gmail's free SMS service in India. The service allows users to send free SMS to any number via chat windows in GTalk. To enable the service, click the 'Gears' icon in Gmail, select 'Settings', click on the 'Labs' tab in the settings panel and select the 'Enable' option for 'SMS (text messaging) in Chat'.

Texting and grammar

If you’ve texted often, you wouldn’t be alien to the common short forms used while typing the text quickly. Researchers recently found that too much texting had its effect on language and grammar skills of tweens. They found that due to the usage of shortcuts, homophones and doing away with vowels, tweens could see their language skills getting affected.

What is your preferred mode of messaging? Share with us in the comments section below. 

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