Legend has it that 30 years ago, on 3 December 1992, an SMS text message was sent over the Vodafone network to an Orbitel 901 “portable” telephone weighing in at 2.1kg.
The message? “Merry Christmas” sent to a Vodafone chief engineer called Richard Jarvis who was to show it to Vodafone’s chief executive at the time, Gerry Whent.
Rumour has it that when the Rolls-Royce driving, cigar-chomping boss viewed the historic text at a Christmas drinks party while visiting Vodata’s offices in Newbury, he didn’t seem overly impressed by this ground-breaking innovation, according to some eye-witnesses.
But the rest, as they say, is history.
Short message Service (SMS) text messaging, whose technical standards were first drawn up by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) in the Eighties, eventually took over the world, eclipsed only by social media messaging apps decades later.
Ben Wood, a former Vodafone staffer, curator of the Mobile Phone Museum and chief analyst at CCS Insight, says: “At the time, mobile messaging was synonymous with pagers and the idea that you could receive, and eventually send, a message on a mobile phone was like something from a science fiction film.”