Text messaging marks 20 years.

Text messaging celebrates 20 years

Text messaging is 20-years-old today, and is now the most popular way for people to stay in contact, an Ofcom report says.

On December 3 1992, 22-year-old British engineer Neil Papworth used his computer to send a message saying “Merry Christmas” to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone.

Now 20 years on, texting is the most popular way that people stay in touch, the Ofcom report found.

Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2012 found that 90 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds text daily to communicate with friends and family, compared with 63 per cent who talk face to face.

The study said that talking on the phone was also less popular than texting among this younger age group, with only 67 per cent saying they make daily phone calls.

According to Ofcom, the media regulator, the average UK consumer now sends around 50 text messages every week.

In 2011, more than 150 billion text messages were sent in the UK, compared to 51 billion sent in 2006.

Ofcom also found that texting was now most prolific among 12 to 15-year-olds, who send an average of 193 texts every week, almost four times the UK average. This has more than doubled from 12 months ago, when just 91 were sent each week by the same age group.

Girls aged between 12 and 15 also text significantly more than boys, sending an average of 221 messages a week – compared to boys who send 164 a week.

However, Ofcom said the first half of 2012 saw declines in the number of SMS messages sent in the UK, with other services such as messaging apps and social media being popular. Last year, 39.7 billion texts were sent in Britain, falling to 38.5 billion in the second quarter of this year.

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