SMS, twenty years down the lane - The New Indian Express

SMS, twenty years down the lane

Published: 08th December 2012 10:46 AM

Last Updated: 08th December 2012 10:47 AM

Was it only yesterday or a few years back. Well, Short Messaging Service or SMS has been in existence for the past 20 years. It is amazing how this ‘format of instant communication’ has made inroads in the lives of people whether they know English or not. People at bus stands, students outside schools and colleges, youngsters hanging around cafes and malls and even middle aged housewives and of course, the professional and working class have become addicted to this format.

Day in and day out, when one is travelling in the city or in the nearby rural environs, we can see excited youngsters punching on their keypads furiously and continuously while middle aged working men and women typing sedately with a beatific smile on their faces. It is simply bliss when one sends or receives a message for just 0.50 paisa which was once unthinkable in the days of Graham Bell’s lone invention for communication.

The 21st century’s most handy and convenient invention, SMS has been a boon as well as a bane for its users and society at large.

Language purists say it has killed the art of writing and academicians rue its effect on development of language skills.

In fact, once a school teacher in London was horrified to see an essay written by a high school student in the so-called SMS language which is nothing but “U 2 brut, gonna do it, got 2 do it, B4 u do 4 urself, Hope u recd ur gift 4m us, dis s ma mail id” and many such shortened versions.

“The younger you are, the more colourful and short it is and this is going to be the standard form of communication in the coming days and years,” says an English Professor and adds, “Although SMS has been a godsend in today’s fast pace of life, however, it has been mis-used and abused in sending obscene and vulgar messages to teenagers as well as celebrities.”

Recently, a P.U. student of Christ College ended his life when his lecturers had asked him to bring his parents for sending objectionable messages to a girl studying in the same college.

Unable to bear the shame and fearing the consequences, the 17-year-old boy committed suicide. This is not a lone case as there have been many such cases in the city and the country where the younger generation has

mis-used this medium without realising their folly, resulting in terrible consequences for the sender and the receiver.

Apart from this, messaging when it goes viral as it happened during the “Exodus of North East people from Bangalore” proved to have its own cascading effect in driving out a section of population, albeit miniscule from their livelihood back to their homes. This was one of the darkest days in the short history of messaging when its usage became detrimental and the government had to ban bulk messaging for a period of 15 days.

On the other hand, messaging has wrought in a complete communication

revolution in those areas and for those people who had been deprived till date of an easy way to pass on information, chat with their friends and relatives living in

different cities and towns. For 50-year-old Shubha who was never exposed to any kind of  technological revolution or familiar with these new fangled applications, SMS has come as a manna from heaven as day in and day out, she messages her married daughters living in two different cities in India.

One can only conclude that short message servicing whether individual or bulk is here to stay and earn more money for the service providers and provide the cheapest form of communication to the common man.


SMS messaging was used for the first time on 3 December 1992, when Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old test engineer for Sema Group in the UK (now Airwide Solutions), used a personal computer to send the text message “Merry Christmas” via the Vodafone network to the phone of Richard Jarvis. “I typed the message on a computer keyboard and sent it to an Orbitel 901 handset. Those things were enormous! I did not invent text messaging. I simply sent the first text message. The Short Message Service (SMS) was defined by the GSM Association.  I helped develop and test the software, got it working on site, and had the honour of sending the first one to prove that it was working,” says Niel.

Modern SMS text messaging is understood to be messaging from one mobile phone to another mobile phone. This was done first by Riku Pihkonen of Nokia in December 1993 in Finland using two Nokia mobile phones on the Radiolinja (now Elisa) network on the GSM standard. Radiolinja became the first network to offer commercial person-to-person SMS text messaging service in 1994. When Radiolinja’s domestic competitor, Telecom Finland (now part of TeliaSonera) also launched SMS text messaging in 1995 and the two networks offered cross-network SMS functionality, Finland became the first nation where SMS text messaging was offered as a competitive as well as commercial basis.



to kill SMS?

In what is to come in the near future, Facebook, has been trying to get people away from SMS. Its intention is to get people to use its messenger service by just having a phone number and no Facebook account. In India Facebook is learnt to be providing the service with a carrier

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