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Text messaging celebrates 20th birthday

Monday - 12/3/2012, 5:05pm  ET

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(WTOP)

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WASHINGTON - It's hard to imagine a time when texting didn't exist, but that was the case in 1992 when a 22-year-old engineer sent the world's first short message service, or SMS.

ABC News reports that 20 years ago today, Neil Papworth, an engineer working in the United Kingdom, made history with two simple words: "Merry Christmas."

Papworth's historic message started out as a test by Semea Group Telecoms, which was working on a mobile messaging project for European carrier Vodafone.

"It happened that day that Vodafone wanted to try sending a message to Richard Jarvis, one of the directors there, who was at a Christmas party," Papworth told ABC News. "For me it was just another day's testing, it didn't seem to be anything big at the time."

Two decades later, more than four billion people - or about two-thirds of the world's population - use the relatively simple technology, the Guardian reports. And because it doesn't require a smartphone or Internet connection, texting is now available in most countries throughout the world.

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