June 30, 2015

The “Father of SMS” Dies

Matti Makkonen

You may or may not have heard of him, but you have been impacted by him, whether you realize it or not!

As reported by BBC News, an illness has claimed the life of the “father of SMS,” Matti Makkonen, at the young age of 63.  In 2012, BBC News conducted an SMS interview with Makkonen.  The interviewer in the article points out how Makkonen planted the seeds for texting as early as 1984, when he discussed the idea of sending text messages via mobile phones.

Those seeds did not even begin to come to fruition until December 3, 1992, when the message “Merry Christmas” was sent from a computer to a mobile phone.  According to the interview, Makkonen credits Nokia with initiating “[t]he real launch of the service” in 1994 with the introduction of a phone that allowed for a convenient way to type in textual messages.

Over the next 20+ years, the technology grew and flourished.  This December will mark the 23rd anniversary of the first text message, and we can see its impact almost everywhere we look!  Texting has become one of the most prominent methods of communication for teens, young adults, and even elderly people.

I doubt Makkonen knew the impact that his idea would have on the whole world.  I doubt he could foresee the phenomenon that was going to sweep civilized nations across the globe.  He simply saw a possibility; then others jumped on the bandwagon and went after it.

Without Matti Makkonen, I would not be in the position I am in today.  I would not have this job.  Mobile Text Alerts would be non-existent.  Although his humility shows in his interview as he refuses to take full credit for the idea, the fact remains that his work has impacted our lives.  His passing truly is a monumental and sad event for the technology community, and for all of us.

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