Although the rise of instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook Messenger have reduced the global usage of SMS text messaging, it was a concept that has stood the test of time. First devised in 1984 and put into practice in the mid-1990s, texts are the original form of instant messaging and, over the course of the 21st century, text messaging has grown to be a fundamental communication tool.

Ever since Neil Papworth used a PC to send the first ever text message – “Merry Christmas” – advances in mobile phone technology enabled person-to-person texts to be sent across a range of networks by the turn of the century. Text messaging grew massively in the 2000s, with TV programmes such as ‘American Idol’ inviting the public to vote for their favorite contestants via text and then-US presidential candidate Barack Obama announcing Joe Biden as his running mate through the use of bulk text messaging.

This infographic from Neon SMS charts the history of the text message since its formation as a concept three decades ago, with additional statistics demonstrating its value as a highly effective form of marketing. For example, coupons sent via SMS are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than if they were printed in newspapers or mailed to customers.

The evolution of the text message