Only 23 years? It’s now in decline, but the idea of sending short text messages will live for ever.
Matti Makkonen, the reluctant “father of SMS”, has died at the age of 63.
Makkonen pitched the original idea for SMS in 1984, while working as a civil servant, over a pizza at a telecoms conference in Copenhagen. His work is widely regarded as being critical to its success, though Makkonen did not receive any money from the invention, because he did not apply for a patent.
The Finnish tech pioneer also was said to dislike his nickname, pointing out in the few interviews he gave that the contributions of other engineers were equally, or more important in developing the Short Message Service standard.
SMS did develop greatly after Makkonen’s direct involvement — the 160 character format was determined in 1985 by communications researcher Friedham Hillebrand, for instance, and it wasn’t until 1992 that Neil Papworth sent the first message — to Vodafone’s director Richard Jarvis at a work party.