Meaning of SMS

It is the text communication system most used around the world. In 2011, 8,000 billion SMS were sent, over a thousand for each inhabitant of the earth. We discover together their origins.

We use them every day. Maybe more than a few occasions overused. However, it is one of the tools that we use most for brief communications and immediate. The SMS (acronym for Short Message Service according to best dictionaries for college students) are now part of our daily lives, to the point that the language abbreviations used in messages (cmq, xke, k instead of ch and so on) is partly joined the our daily written language. And all in just 20 years old. The first SMS was sent in December 1992 on the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom from a personal computer to a mobile phone. Since then we have not stopped. Just look at the numbers of SMS sent worldwide in 2011: about 7 billion people in the world have posted about 8 trillions of text messages, in an amount per capita of more than 1000 and 22 billion text messages sent every day.

But the story of the short message is rooted in the mid 80s. The idea was developed by engineers Franco-German Bernard Ghillebaert and Friedhelm Hillebrand: the aim was to develop an alternative communication service to the phone but that exploited the unused resources from the nascent mobile phone. In 1985, during a congress of the consortium GSM held in Oslo he was presented the first document that officially spoke of SMS. In this first sketch, text messages had to offer three services to users: the Short Message Mobile Terminated (SMS-MT), which is the ability for a network to transmit a text message to a mobile phone is another phone that through software; the Short Message Mobile Originated (SMS-MO), or the ability for a network to transmit a text message sent from a mobile phone; Finally the Short Message Cell Broadcast, or the ability for each cell in the network to send a message to any phone connected to it. This service was used in the past by some telephone companies to report the province where he had placed the cell to which it was connected: a very useful service when telephone rates were still “regional” and are paid according to the district of residence.

The ideas behind this new text communication service were few and simple: first, the messages should be received by the recipient even if his phone was not in an area covered by the GSM signal or if it was turned off and does not consume too many resources. For this reason, when it was conceived and built the sending protocol and receiving messages, it established the maximum limit of 160 characters for each message to be sent. Namely a maximum of 128 bytes per message. Moreover, in the mid 80s the so-called bottlenecks in the mobile communication channels were much narrower than today, but the limit of 160 characters per message is still maintained.

To compensate, however, the first of the two cornerstones of mobile messaging was adopted some sort of trick. The exchange of messages never occurs directly between two mobile numbers involved in the communication, but through a “middleman” communication. In this case to assume the role of the intermediary is the Short Message Services Center (SMSC, in Italian the Message Center). The messages are first sent to the message center, which handles them and then forwards them to the recipient’s number. In the event that this were not accessible (because in an area not covered or switched-off), the message center shall deliver it as soon as the cell phone number back to “Available.” To accomplish these tasks are exploited two of the services that are designed in the first draft of 1985: sending of SMS to the service center that is thanks to the SMS-MT while forwarding thanks to the SMS-MO.

However, it was not until about a decade before seeing realized these theories,. The first SMS, as mentioned, was sent in the United Kingdom by Neil Papworth to Richard Jervis on Vodaphone network (now Vodafone). It was the 3 December 1992 and the SMS read “Merry Christmas”.

The first commercial networks to sending SMS were developed in 1993 in northern European countries. The first nation to develop one was Sweden, followed closely by Norway. In the early years, the SMS did not enjoy too much success and fame only in the late 90s and the beginning of the new millennium began to spread of the “texting” phenomenon, mainly due to more young people who saw in an SMS system more agile communication, quick and cheap phone calls. He ran as well by 0.4 messages sent each month for each GSM user to the approximately 22 billion sent each day worldwide.

The importance of SMS in our daily lives and in our culture is also demonstrated, as mentioned, by the language of grafts used in SMS in everyday written language. And not only in Italian, but also in English. The Oxford Dictionary Inglese (a bit of the organs of the United Kingdom), in past years, has entered into the English words in common use the acronym LOL (Laughing Out Loud, laughing out loud), OMG (Oh My God O my God), IMHO (in My Humble opinion, in my humble opinion) and more.

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