For 25 years, people have stopped conversations, on hearing a bleep from their phone. With Whatsapp, Gmail and Facebook Messenger amongst a long list of mobile notifications, we forget for a long time, SMS(or texting) was the only way to send messages by phone.
Google “Who invented SMS” and it will list, amongst others: Matti Makkonen, Finn Trosby, Friedhelm Hillebrand, Bernard Ghillebaert, Oculy Silaban, Neil Papworth. And that’s just Googles’s first page!(Feb 2013)
The Authority of Print
In the olden days, people visited public buildings full of books, where you could read, for free. Called libraries, you could ask a highly educated, well-informed and under-employed librarian to source a book for you. Asking ‘Who created SMS?’, you’d most likely come away with a book called “Short Message Service”, published by Wiley in 2010. It contains names of anybody of importance in the creation of SMS. It’s a book forensic in its detail.
Fake News, Post-Truth, Alternative Facts…
These days, ‘research’ normally means clicking on the first search result from Google. Despite Google’s increasingly complex algorithms, it still lacks discrimination for the truth. Wikipedia actually fairs far better than perceived(as anyone who’s read the study pitting itself(and winning) against Encyclopedia Britannica will tell you). However, it often lacks detail in complex and controversial areas.
So serious journalists sort through contradictory Google search results. Many, on short dead-lines, go down the ill-advised democratic route, by picking whatever answer seems to have the most independent citations!
“Repeat a lie often enough and people believe it”.
How many people know we pay £110 – £120m every week to the EU? Biased reporting means this figure has been drowned out. Hearing repeatedly the false claim that the weekly figure(£350m) is a lie, detracts from the genuine financial costs. Whilst misleading – as we get £230-£240m back – this ignores what we do pay.
As a net contributor, the EU gets 16% of its funding from the UK(almost a sixth). In contrast, other than France and Germany, the remaining EU countries take more than they give. The Remain campaign failed, but it illustrates how disinterested most people are in uncovering the real facts.
Give Me the Facts. Who created SMS?
Do a Google search and most conclude Matti Makkonen invented SMS. Interestingly, his name doesn’t appear anywhere in the comprehensively researched Wiley book on SMS.
It’s quicker to duplicate, than write, original content. So, all those wrong media articles, with erroneous accounts, get more citations in Google. As this snowballs, lazy thinkers trot out the line, “if everyone is saying the same thing, it can’t be wrong”.
Well it can… and they are!
Defining a Text Message
It’s pointless trying to track the idea of SMS to, say, a single person in the 15th Century thinking hill-top beacons could become a simple messaging system. Similarly, in the early 1980’s the world was awash with people having ideas about mobile messaging. We need to establish who came up the system we use today.
What we recognise as SMS today originated in a document in the joint Franco-German R & D trials in October 1984. It called for the provision of
- a message transmission service
- of alphanumeric messages
- to mobile users with acknowledgement capabilities.
Creators of The Concept
SMS needs to operate over a ‘GSM ‘network. It’s clear from the minuted meetings there’s no link between Matti Makkonen and the conception of SMS.
The archives and subsequent accounts show there were only two innitiators – Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert. They were the guiding hands in the conception of the service. However, they weren’t responsible for shaping a very successful technical solution.
Creators of The Technology
Finn Trosby, Kevin Holley and Ian Harris, delivered the techinical solution. These are the five most credible innovators of SMS – delivering both a brilliant concept and a viable technical solution respectively.