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Meet the man who sent the first-ever text message

To mark the 25th anniversary of text messages, Sky News has caught up with Neil Papworth - the man who sent the very first one back in 1992.

Created by Sky News
on Dec 3, 2017
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sky News
 

Hi Neil, how are you?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

I'm very well, thank you, how are you?

 
 
Sky News
 

Congratulations on the text message being 25 years old - how do you feel?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

Thanks! I feel old! It's been an entire generation since I sent that message.

 
 
Sky News
 

Tell us - how old were you when you sent the first text message and what did it say?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

I was 22 years old, and it said: "Merry Christmas." I was working as a developer and sent it to a director at Vodafone who was at his office Christmas party.

 
 
Sky News
 

Did you get a reply?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

No! To be fair, there was no way to reply at the time, so I wasn't offended.

 
 
Sky News
 

How did you come up with the idea?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

Text messaging was not my idea or invention, I just happen to be lucky to have sent that first one.

 
 
Sky News
 

How do you think text messaging changed the world?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

Billions of people started using it to exchange quick messages, whereas before they would have had to make a phone call. Of course, it also introduced the danger of them concentrating on their keypad and screen, and not the road or lamppost.

 
 
Sky News
 

Did it look like text messages do now?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

Almost, yes. It was limited to 160 characters, but no one had yet invented text speak (txt spk) or emojis, and you could only send those very first texts from a computer to a phone, not the other way round.

 
 
Sky News
 

Do you text a lot or use other messaging such as WhatsApp?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

I don't use WhatsApp, but I use some of the social media messaging such as Skype and Facebook Messenger. And I still text when I need to get someone an urgent message.

 
 
Sky News
 

What's been the best text message you've ever received?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

I've received so many, I don't remember! The best one I ever sent was announcing the birth of my daughter.

 
 
Sky News
 

Do you use emojis and text talk?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

Not really! I send smileys the old school way, using characters such as colon, dash, close bracket. :-)

 
 
Sky News
 

What do you think about the number of people texting going down?

 
 
Neil Papworth
 

It's inevitable, really. Texting's demise has been predicted for at least 10 years, but it took a lot longer than experts thought before usage started dropping. So many people now have data plans, and there's a great deal of choice of online messaging platforms available.