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Text messaging turns 20

Tablets and smartphones turn to instant messaging

SMS text message

At the end of a year dominated by smartphones and tablets, the humble text message has turned 20.

On the 20th anniversary of the text message, Ofcom has revealed that it is the most popular form of communication for young people. The very first text message was sent on 3 December 1992 by 22 year-old engineer, Neil Papworth, who sent "Merry Christmas" with an Orbitel 901.

Ofcom reports that the average UK consumer sends 50 text messages a week. However, 12-15 year olds send almost four times the national average, 193 per week. In 2011, more than 150 billion text messages were flown across the UK – almost triple the amount send in 2006.

James Thickett, director of research at Ofcom, said: "When texting was first conceived many saw it as nothing more than a niche service."

"But texts have now surpassed traditional phone calls and meeting face to face as the most frequent way of keeping in touch for UK adults, revolutionising the way we socialise, work and network."

The mobile regulator also revealed that texting is more popular than talking, with girls texting 25 percent more than boys.

However, text messaging saw a decline during the first half of 2012. This could well be down to the rise of alternative web-based methods like iMessage, BBM and WhatsApp.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

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