Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

December 7, 2012

The text heard 'round the world'

"What's for dinner?"

It's the most common text I get. It comes from my youngest daughter on a daily basis. Sometimes she is in her room and I am in the kitchen when I get the text, because it would be too much trouble to actually walk into the kitchen and ask me in person. She would actually have to put her phone down and take her headphones out in order to hear my answer anyway. What a hassle.

You know how since texting began everything is so great? You know how since texting began, communication between family members has improved and teens have become more socially active?

Yeah, me neither. Texting has not only destroyed communication. It's become so addicting it's commonly considered a hazard.

Twenty years ago this week, texting reinvented communication. The first text message was sent by Neil Papworth. He sent the message from a computer terminal at an office Christmas party to a friend's cell phone. It read simply, "Merry Christmas." That's nice since he was at the party and could have walked up to the friend to say it. But the texting thing was way cooler and, you know, got his name remembered as the first texter. Good for him.

A fellow named Matti Makkonen holds the title of "father of SMS." He is the one who developed the technology he first conceived in 1984. He says he thought it would be useful for quick business communications.

By the way, Makkonen doesn't really like the attention and rarely gives interviews. I can't say that I blame him considering the way the whole thing has evolved, although he claims he's happy about how it all progressed. Now we can all say, "Merry Christmas," without actually talking to anyone. Good for him as well.

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