Perhaps you are wondering when did text messaging become popular in the US? Well, a quick and short answer is text messaging has come a long way since 1992. It is not just text messages that have evolved over the last couple of decades. The evolution has even affected communication technologies and information channels.

The popularity of SMS messages paved the way to compete with phone calls by instantly sending relevant information to mobile phone subscribers. In this article, you will learn about texting as a form of communication, its history, and how it gained popularity in the US.

The First Time a Text Message Was Sent

Neil Papworth, a developer at Sema group, was the first person to send an SMS to a cell phone in 1992. The recipient of this short message was Richard Jarvis, at the time an employee at UK service Vodafone. The former developer at Sema Group Telecoms sent the message to Jarvis as he was attending a Merry Christmas party.

This is the origin of text messaging as we know it today. The first text message read, “Merry Christmas,” and despite the popularity of text messaging, the onset of texting was slow. For example, the average number of texts per person in a month in 1995 was 0.4, and this was mostly because of operators since there were disagreements among them on allowing users to send texts across networks.

Who is the Real Inventor of Text Messages?

The concept of SMS is credited to Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert from Franco-German GSM cooperation in the UK. Friedhelm Hillebrand developed the concept while typing random sentences and counting every letter number and space at home. Each time the characters were less than 160 characters, which became the limit for the early text message and mobile phones.

However, the inventor of SMS, Matti Makkoned, was a Finnish engineer at Nokia. That said, Matti attributed it to all the engineers involved in creating the new method of communication.

Text Messages Started Developing Rapidly

From the first texting phone as a way of connecting with friends and family to today, where consumers receive brand communication regularly, short message service, commonly known as SMS, has changed dramatically. 

In March 1993, Neil Papworth launched the UK’s first commercial text messaging service. The service allowed users to send short messages with up to 160 alphabetic and numeric characters via mobile phones. In November 1993, “Short Mail” debuted as the first commercial American text messaging service. Over time, cross-network text messaging has been possible by integrating multimedia messages into cell phones and mobile devices.

To send a text message in the 1990s, your thumbs had to work on a tiny keypad, as this was long before predictive texting started. It was in 1995 that the autofill feature came into effect – opening the door to faster texting. T9 was the first autofill technology that made it easy to use the 10-digit keypad. This feature meant you no longer needed to continue counting every letter number as you compose your text message. In 1997, Nokia released the Nokia 9000i communicator – the first cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard, opening the doors to desktop PC-like typing on mobile phones.

When Did Text Messaging Become Popular in the US?

The introduction of cross-network text messaging in 1999 was one of the most important in the evolution of SMS text messaging. Before this time, you could only send text messages to cell phone users with whom you share the same service provider. As a result, after its introduction, in 2000, texting became mainstream in the US. At the time, SMS text messaging was so popular that, on average, each person in the US sent approximately 35 text messages monthly.

During this time, SMS messaging was so popular among college students that it was referred to as the new fever. In 2001, thanks to its popularity, most businesses turned to SMS messaging as one of their marketing tools. It is for this reason that was established to help businesses enhance their text message marketing efforts.

The easing of restrictions and solving the billing issue in 1999 opened the way for capitalizing on SMS and led to huge numbers. Although the initial growth was slow, the value of messaging has grown over the years. Today, consumers are connected, and compared to other forms of communication, SMS has the highest click rate, which presents a huge opportunity for all brands. 

People All Over the World Started Using Text Messages

In 2007, texting became the most popular mobile phone data service globally, used by approximately 2.4 billion cell phone users out of 3.3 billion at the time. This was the first time the number of text messages surpassed the number of phone calls. It also happens to be the same year Apple released its first iPhone.

Do You Remember the First Cell Phone with Texting Feature?

Before texting was a popular way of communicating with family and friends, making phone calls was much more accessible. At least it was better than sending electronic mail, especially when an immediate response was necessary. The first cell phone that comes to mind at the onset of texting is a black-and-white phone. It had a 10-digit keypad that required you to press several times to get the letter you wanted, as opposed to today’s virtual single keypress keypad.

How is Text Messaging Being Developed These Days?

Today, there is a growing trend as some websites let you send SMS messages online. However, businesses are not ready to surrender the convenience of sending electronic alphanumeric text messages to consumers. 

Brands are capitalizing on messaging to establish a concise phone-based connection with their customers. Currently, marketing through text messages is taking shape, which presents many advantages over most other marketing channels. Below are some of the developments shaping the future of messaging. 

Rise of Chat Apps

Regardless of the challenges alternative technologies like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger pose to SMS, there is little evidence pointing to the decline of SMS usage in the foreseeable future. Unlike in the past, when you had to count the number of key presses to type and send a text message, today, you can use the QWERTY virtual keyboard.

Since 2010, text messaging has been the mainstream practice across multiple cultures. As an indication of how text messaging was popular, the word “texting” found its way into the English dictionary in 2010. It is not a surprise considering there were over 15 million text messages sent every minute of the day in 2017 alone.

Today, electronic messages are much more convenient for businesses, thanks to online service providers like Even though the popularity of mobile internet-based messaging apps continues to grow, SMS messaging continues to hold its own. For instance, new technology targeting enterprise SMS is increasingly becoming a popular SMS concept. This technology provides companies with a communication channel for connecting with customers.

The first thing you envision when you think of SMS messaging is a generic, text-only alert about a sale. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today, customers expect more interesting text messages with engaging graphics and relevant information. Brands are now including GIFs, contact cards, videos, and images in marketing messages to grab the attention of mobile subscribers and increase engagement.

SMS Automation

What’s more, automation brought about by short message services is empowering marketers to send personalized text messages. With SMS, brands can build loyalty among customers and develop an audience of interested consumers. To accomplish this, marketers use web portals to automate texting and even build auto-responders. Such portals allow brands and businesses to automate messaging depending on several factors. For instance, text automation can be time-based, inbound, and contact-based. What’s more, with SMS autoresponders, brands can provide instant replies to concerns. 

How Text Messages in the Future Will Be Like

As businesses increasingly use SMS messages to engage with customers, you can expect this to continue in the future. Currently, text messaging is a popular tool for requesting feedback and comments, performing security authorizations, sending delivery notifications, and confirming appointments.

As public institutions turn to SMS messages, this new form of communication will, in the future, continue to be an even more popular communication channel. For example, in emergency services, text messaging will be critical in sending important public information across different networks. Despite its potential, only a fraction of enterprises embrace SMS marketing in their marketing strategies. What’s more, most consumers agree it is good for businesses to send messages from a customer relations and sales perspective.

Soon, brands will not just add SMS to their channels. It will be a way to keep consumers interested. The future of text message marketing is personalized, two-way communication. One of the powerful ways brands will seek to build affinity and promote repeat purchases is through engaging and natural conversations through text messages. Even today, consumers want concise answers to their questions instead of random sentences. As a result, brands are integrating SMS platforms that can seamlessly deal with concerns as they arise.

More Innovation

Innovation is not slowing down when it comes to what SMS can accomplish for brands. SMS provides a lot of growth opportunities in the customer lifecycle. Consumers are ready to connect with brands through texting because of its convenience, engaging, and interactive nature. Texting is only starting to claim its place in the mainstream among other icons. Texting will continue to be the go-to brand communication channel to engage customers on a personal level.

Consumers will expect curated information, such as a new product that coincides with their latest purchase. It will not be enough for brands to depend only on SMS in the future. Rather, they will have to include chat apps to create an intimate relationship with consumers. This provides businesses with a unique opportunity for omnichannel messaging.

Personalized SMS Text

Consumers will look for a well-rounded experience associated with email in text messages. Consumers will expect the level of engagement they get through videos, videos, and links in emails. The same sentiments also apply to other technologies like chat apps as the integration of advanced features and brand adoption increases.

SMS may be even as dynamic with the inclusion of high-quality images, voice, and video as part of the standard messaging experience. Visualize a world where consumers can update their orders in real-time through messaging. Developments in messaging could let consumers modify their orders through an interactive screen instead of opening a link to a website. Such integration of sound content will increase the degree of engagement and ROI for brands.


The evolution of texting from a simple tool for personal use to a channel for brands to build relationships with consumers has been remarkable. Better still, texting offers brands untold opportunities. Brands must implement an innovative messaging strategy to build and improve their relationships with current and future clients.


Which was the best suitable phone to send the first message to?

In 1997, Nokia introduced the first genuine texting phone, complete with a QWERTY keyboard. Even though there were other mobile phones at the time, none were designed to support texting seamlessly.

When did texting become mainstream?

By 2007, the number of texts sent each month was more than phone calls. From this point onwards, texting became one of the most popular communication methods with family and friends.

How does texting work?

Texting allows you to send and receive text messages over a network. When you are done crafting the message, send it in a single keypress, your mobile phone sends the request to the carrier’s server, which then routes the message to the recipient.

How many SMS are sent daily?

Each day, there are 23 billion text messages sent. This translates to approximately 270,000 texts every second.