Text messaging celebrates 20-year anniversary - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Text messaging celebrates 20-year anniversary

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Monday is a special anniversary for the communications industry. It was 20 years ago that Neil Papworth sent the first ever text message.

Papworth, a British engineer, was 22-years-old when he sent the first ever Short Messaging Service (SMS) from his computer to a friend's cell phone.

The message simply read: "Merry Christmas."

Texting had a slow start, but eventually it surged in popularity, especially when it became cheaper than calling.

It is the single most-widely used application in the world - 81-percent of mobile phone subscribers use it.

Now, free alternatives like instant messaging apps are becoming more and more popular, and text messaging is in decline.

According to Britain's independent communications industries regulator OFCOM, more than 150 billion texts were sent in 2011 alone.

The most frequent texters in the UK are 12 to 15 year olds, who send an average of 193 per week.

Papworth said he didn't realize it would catch on.

Copyright 2012 WBTV. CNN contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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