Vodafone celebrates 25 years since creating world’s first text message

  • Twenty-five years ago, the world’s first text message was sent by Neil Papworth
  • The software architect – working for his client Vodafone – wrote ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ to colleague Richard Jarvis
  • A quarter of a century later, Papworth has recreated a more modern version of the same message using emojis

Vodafone global is celebrating 25-years since the telecom company sent the world’s first text message. That single act sparked a revolution across the globe which has reached unbelievable proportions today.

In 1992, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old software programmer, sent the first ever text message from a computer to his colleague Richard Jarvis. Papworth had been working as a developer and test engineer to create a Short Message Service (SMS) for his client, Vodafone. That very first text, sent on the 3rd December 1992, simply said ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’.

In 1999, seven years after Neil Papworth’s first SMS message, Vodafone was already leading an innovation to ensure texts could finally be exchanged on multiple networks, propelling them into greater popularity than ever before. Today, ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ messages are now sent by millions all over the world using texts, videos and emojis. Marking the 25th anniversary since the first text, Papworth has imagined a more modern version of his 1992 Christmas message, this time using emoji’s.

“In 1992, I had no idea just how popular texting would become, and that this would give rise to emojis and messaging apps used by millions. I only recently told my children that I sent that first text. Looking back with hindsight, it’s clearer to see that the Christmas message I sent was a pivotal moment in mobile history,” Papworth said.

Marking the anniversary, Chief Executive of Vodafone Ghana, Yolanda Cuba said:“Little did we know that a global transformation was about to take over the world when that text message went through. The need to connect with each other has been intrinsic since creation and now Vodafone is proud to be leading the way in harnessing more innovative ways to ensure this connection is made easy. The future of technology is exciting and our customers can count on us to help them navigate through it with confidence and optimism.”


– The first text message ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ was sent on 3rd December, 1992 by software architect Neil Papworth on the Vodafone network

– The first texts had to be no longer than 160 characters

Leave a Reply