10 Fun Facts About SMS

We spend our days chatting about SMS campaigns here at FireText HQ and love sharing our text message marketing knowledge with our lovely customers, but we also know some facts about SMS that you might not have heard before.

1. The very first SMS sent simply said “Merry Christmas”. It was sent by British engineer, Neil Papworth on 3rd December 1992 from a computer to a mobile phone

2. Twitter was inspired by SMS and the 140 character limit is in place to keep Twitter simple and accessible to all users, just like the text message.

3. German engineer, Friedhelm Hillebrand sat at his typewriter writing random sentences in 1985 to try and determine the length needed for a text message and found that for most sentences or questions, 160 characters were “perfectly sufficient”, this limit still remains for a single text message.


4. The original Nokia phone beep for an incoming text message “special” which was heard everywhere back in the 90s was in fact Morse code for “SMS”.

5. A life-saving operation was carried out successfully in 2008 by British surgeon David Nott in the Congo following step-by-step instructions received by text message on how to perform the surgery from a colleague.

6. Nokia introduced the SMS feature in 1993. Before this, phones didn’t have the ability to compose SMS messages. It was not until 1999 that text messages could be sent between phones on different networks in the UK.

7. Finnish engineer, Matti Makkonen didn’t seek a patent the idea for SMS when he invented it in 1984 whilst working at Nokia, as he didn’t believe he’d made a “patentable innovation.” He didn’t make a penny on the product.

8. There is an anti-smartphone called John’s Phone which can only make and receive calls. John’s Phone is made in the Netherlands and cannot send or receive text messages or browse the internet. The address book is simply a pad of paper and pen attached to the back of the phone!

9. Worldwide, we sent 8.3 trillion SMS messages last year, or almost 23 billion messages per day. That’s a lot of texting!

10. Since 2003, it has been legal in Malaysia for a man to divorce his wife by sending a text message as SMS is considered to be “just another form of writing”.

So there you go, there’s more to those 160 characters than you realised. Do you know any more facts about SMS? We’d love to hear them! Get in touch…

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