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ICYMI: SMS turns 20

On Dec. 3, 1992, engineer Neil Papworth sent the first short message service (SMS) message to Richard Jarvis at Vodaphone. It said, “Merry Christmas,” and there was no method for replying.

In the 20 years since, texting has become ubiquitous in the mobile world, for personal and even mass communication. In 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama announced Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate via text message, considered a cutting-edge use of technology.

Commercial use of text messaging caught on quickly and kept increasing in use. But the government workplace was much slower to adopt it, mostly because early SMS encryption was rather weak and its use was optional. Even today, CSO Online reports, when a flaw in mobile security is exposed, it seems the nature of SMS is at least partly to blame, as in recent attacks against iPhone users. SMS also has been found being used in spoofing attacks aimed at Twitter users, according to InformationWeek.

In lieu of SMS, many government agencies have adopted text messaging, but through internal service appliances and cloud-based workspaces. SMS is still used when the security doesn’t matter, like when NASA sends out International Space Station viewing alerts. But whether they are using SMS or some other method, government users are still texting quite a bit.

So, Messrs. Papworth and Jarvis, Merry Christmas, and Happy Anniversary, to you too!

To read more about the early years of SMS, check this London Telegraph article.

Posted by Greg Crowe on Dec 04, 2012 at 9:39 AM


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