Text messages celebrate 20th anniversary

Posted on December 17, 2012


It’s hard to remember a time before we had text messaging and the associated abbreviations known as ‘text speak’, but texts have just reached their 20th anniversary. The first text read, ‘Merry Christmas’ and was sent in December 1992 by a programmer, who used a computer to type the message as mobile phones did not have the ability to produce letters.

Since then, text messaging has gone on to become one of the most popular ways of keeping in touch, with around 15 million texts being sent each minute. In fact, texting is now more popular than speaking on the phone, and remains more popular than other smartphone applications such as social network messaging.

One of the most striking developments in the last 20 years has been the creation of ‘text speak’, the abbreviated language used by many people to keep their texts within a character limit. Abbreviations such as ‘LOL’ and ‘2moro’ are now recognised by most people, and their use has grown online.

Not everyone is a fan of text language, and studies have been conducted to look into whether or not texting has had a negative impact on the performance of children in reading and writing tasks. Many people have also fallen foul of predictive text’s tendency to insert unintended words into text messages.

For those who run professional or business websites, ‘text speak’ is generally a bad idea. Newsfeeds, articles and business communications should be written in a more traditional style, as abbreviations can irritate readers and can look unprofessional when used in the wrong place.

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