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Monday, December 3, 2012

Birthday of SMS ~ 'arivil piranthatu marippathe illai !!'

For Rajni Enthiran, Vairamuthu wrote
“Karuvil pirantha ellam Marikum ~ arivil Piranthathu marippathe illai’ ~  Itho en Enthiran, Ivan Amaran…..  ~ meaning that ‘all things that are born of womb would die but not things born from mind’…………

Everyone carries at least one mobile and there is the insatiable urge for many to check for messages frequently.  To many morning starts with staring at the mobile, checking for new messages and trying to read all that was received.  Though people complain about pesky messages, many feel happy in receiving lot of messages ~ many would remain unread is another matter altogether.  

Today, is the birthday of ‘one utility’ which we use every day.. the  first SMS message  was sent over the Vodafone GSM network in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1992, from Neil Papworth of Sema Group using a personal computer to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone using an Orbitel 901 handset.

Many of you may not remember or heard of ‘pager’ ~ once touted to be a technological marvel.  Often called a ‘beeper’ it was a simple telecommunications device for short messages. There were numeric and alphanumeric.  Remember you cannot  speak on that and in fact, even the message was not direct from your equipment to the recipient or vice versa.  One-way numeric pager could only receive a message consisting of a few digits, typically a phone number that the user is then requested to call. Alphanumeric pagers  had  the ability to  receive messages in words and in numbers.  

Though they were in vogue in US in late 1950s, it became popular and within reach of common man only in 1990s in India.  Depending upon the service provider, you had to call one designated no. where they would record message and the intended recipient and then send the same from their utility. Even a pager used to cost around Rs.5000/- which was quite costly those days.    The popular adoption of mobile phones pushed out of the market and out of use.  

With more mobiles, more service providers, slashed rates arising out of competition, SMS is extremely popular, especially amongst students.  You can find every other person in a public place, be it in bus, train, cinema hall, stadium, or elsewhere – staring at their handset and typing out or reading the messages – often with a smile or mixed feeling.  

Recently, the Govt banned bulk SMSes and subsequently made revised limits for sending bulk SMS.  For the uninitiated [if at all there is any], Short Message Service (SMS) is a text messaging service component of phone, web, or mobile communication systems, using standardized communications protocols that allow the exchange of short text messages between fixed line or mobile phone devices.  SMS text messaging is the most widely used data application in the world, with 3.6 billion active users, or 78% of all mobile phone subscribers.

The term "SMS" is used as a synonym for all types of short text messaging, as well as the user activity itself, in many parts of the world. SMS is also being used as a form of direct marketing known as SMS marketing.  The key idea for SMS was to use this telephony-optimized system, and to transport messages on the signaling paths needed to control the telephony traffic during time periods when no signaling traffic existed. In this way, unused resources in the system could be used to transport messages at minimal cost. However, it was necessary to limit the length of the messages to 128 bytes (later improved to 140 bytes, or 160 seven-bit characters) so that the messages could fit into the existing signaling formats.

Though conceptually it developed by updated software which was required to make the handset compatible for handling SMS, virtually there is no handset which comes out without this application.  

It has come a long way, from business communication, moving hearts, to sharing of love to just sharing useless little things ~ some cannot just live without SMS these days.  By some conservative estimates there are around  four billion people around the globe using SMS and some reports also suggest that  for the first time since their inception, text messaging volumes have declined globally.

E-mail, Social networking like Facebook, Twitter have not affected SMS after 20 years of its birth…. ~ but in technology anything could become obsolete at some point time with another latest innovation.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd Dec 2012.

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