Twenty years on, and SMS still going strong

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Researchers and tech-watchers have long understood that the chirping, insatiable temptations of our little screens change the way we interact with other people 'IRL' (in real life).

London - Exactly 20 years ago on December 3, 1992, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old technician was sitting at a computer terminal in Vodafone’s Newbury HQ, where the company were having their Christmas party.

Imbued with festive spirit, Papworth sent the telenote message “Merry Christmas” from his computer to technical director Richard Jarvis’s Orbitel 901 phone. Little did he know that two decades later, telenotes would be called texts; the trillions sent around the world would generate an annual £73.5 billion; 3 billion texts a week would be sent in the UK alone ... and absolutely nobody would text “Christmas” when “Xmas” would do.

Texts have changed the way we write, obliterating conventional punctuations and replacing properly spelled words with abbreviations, initials and “emoticon” smiley symbols. Last year the word “sexting” (sending explicit images of yourself with a text) entered the Oxford dictionary, while it was revealed that one-in-ten twentysomethings have texted while having sex.

These days no celebrity sex scandal or political revelation is complete without embarrassing and incriminating text evidence, nor do any major events go by without instant text commentary.

The average Briton now sends around 50 texts a week and is more likely to text friends and family than talk to them.

But some observers claim that the joy of texts may be waning as instant messaging and social media like Facebook, Twitter and Skype provide free, more public communication. In the meantime, here are some of the most outrageous, newsworthy, moving and shocking texts from the past two decades:

Burp

Sent in June 1993 by Brennan Hayden, an engineer for an Irish telecoms company, working in Los Angeles. This was the first paid-for, commercial text. Hayden jokily chose the word “burp” because he saw the medium as a new baby.

I’m gonna be here always xx But are you OK? xx

Sent by Amy Winehouse to her friend Kristian Marr at 3.10am on July 23, 2011. Marr was asleep when it came through. By the time he woke up, she was dead.

WTC has been hit by an airplane and a bomb. currently b6 is being evacuated. updates will follow

Texts sent by the police and emergency services in New York after American Airlines Flight 111 crashes into the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. - Daily Mail

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