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Q&A: Texting celebrates 20th birthday

Tracing the origins of texting

I got a text message from a friend and it got me to wonder when texting began, and who invented it?

The 160-character short message service, also known as SMS or text messaging, turned 20 this month. On Dec. 3, 1992, Neil Papworth of the Sema Group sent the first text message from a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone using that company's United Kingdom network. The message: "Merry Christmas."

Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen, now 60, who had been working as president of the mobile communication company Telecom Finland in 1992, is widely cited as the father of texting.

He has always been reluctant to take credit. "I did not consider SMS as personal achievement but as result of joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them," the Finn told the BBC.

Makkonen said text messaging could have begun as early as 1984, when he suggested the idea at a telecommunications conference. But it took another eight years for it to be incorporated as part of the developing the global system for mobile communications (GSM) network.

Amazingly, Makkonen, who is now CEO of Anvia Oyj, a Finnish-based provider of telecommunication services, never profited from his idea. He didn't know it could be covered by a patent.

Makkonen also has never fully embraced some aspects of texting. He told the BBC he doesn't use texting shortcuts, and he takes his time when composing messages. "I love touchscreen," he texted the BBC. "Slow enough to think and sometimes even edit what I write."

It's estimated there are now 200,000 text messages sent and received every second worldwide. The average U.S. teen sends 3,000 texts a month, and phone companies reportedly pull in about $70 billion in revenue a year from texting.

How to handle funny money

If you are a victim of receiving counterfeit money, what do you do with it?

If you suspect you have received a counterfeit note, follow these steps, according to the U.S. Secret Service's website (

• Do not return it to the passer.

• Delay the passer if possible.

• Observe the passer's description, as well as that of any companions, and the license plate numbers of any vehicles.

• Contact your local police department or U.S. Secret Service field office.

• Write your initials and the date in the white border areas of the suspect note.

• Limit the handling of the note. Carefully place it in a protective covering, such as an envelope.

• Surrender the note or coin to a properly identified police officer or a U.S. Secret Service special agent.

Q&A: Xxxxxxxxx hed here

Q&A: Texting celebrates 20th birthday 12/17/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 5:19pm]
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