EXACTLY 20 years ago on December 3, 1992, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old technician was sitting at a computer terminal in Vodafone’s Newbury HQ in south-east England, where the company were having their Christmas party.
Imbued with festive spirit, Papworth sent the telenote message ‘Merry Christmas’ from his computer to technical director Richard Jarvis’s Orbitel 901 phone. Little did he know that two decades later, telenotes would be called texts; the trillions sent around the world would generate an annual $112 billion; billions of texts would be sent each week … and absolutely nobody would text ‘Christmas’ when ‘Xmas’ would do.
Texts have changed the way we write, obliterating conventional punctuations and replacing properly spelled words with abbreviations, initials and ’emoticon’ smiley symbols. Last year the word ‘sexting’ (sending explicit images of yourself with a text) entered the Oxford dictionary, while it was revealed that one-in-ten twentysomethings have texted while having sex.
These days no celebrity sex scandal or political revelation is complete without embarrassing and incriminating text evidence, nor do any major events go by without instant text commentary.
The average person now sends around 50 texts a week and is more likely to text friends and family than talk to them.
But some observers claim that the joy of texts may be waning as instant messaging and social media like Facebook, Twitter and Skype provide free, more public communication. In the meantime, here are some of the most outrageous, newsworthy, moving and shocking texts from the past two decades:
Sent in June 1993 by Brennan Hayden, an engineer for an Irish telecoms company, working in Los Angeles. This was the first paid-for, commercial text. Hayden jokily chose the word ‘burp’ because he saw the medium as a new baby.
I’m gonna be here always xx But are you OK? xx
Sent by Amy Winehouse to her friend Kristian Marr at 3.10am on July 23, 2011. Marr was asleep when it came through. By the time he woke up, she was dead.
WTC has been hit by an airplane and a bomb. currently b6 is being evacuated. updates will follow
Texts sent by the police and emergency services in New York after American Airlines Flight 111 crashes into the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001.
Thatcher has died
Sent on November 12, 2009, by Canada’s transport minister John Baird to a constituent who happened to be at a black-tie gala in Toronto. What appeared to be the news of the former British PM’s passing instantly spread among the guests and soon the Canadian government was preparing its message of condolence. Only then was it revealed that Baird had been referring to his beloved, but now deceased cat Thatcher – named after Maggie, his political heroine.
I beg * keep this between us x Please delete all texts ill have no balls left
Sent by footballer Ashley Cole on October 4, 2008, shortly after his first sex-session with a lover who has remained anonymous. Cole later texted a number of explicit photos to the young woman.
One of a number of extra-marital affairs that Cole indulged in, all with full text commentary, before his outraged wife Cheryl texted …
Move out. It’s over
on February 22, 2010, ending their marriage.
U should see me, naked with only a white cotton G-string
One of a number of texts allegedly sent by Rebecca Loos to David Beckham, while he was playing for Real Madrid and she was his personal assistant. Loos produced a sequence of explicit alleged messages between the pair. Amid a global media storm Beckham called her suggestions of an affair “ludicrous”.
I will leave an envelope at the front desk under ms daniels. Your room will be 305. Get settled and let me know J when you are ready to see me. I will be in room 201. You can come down the stair well next to your room. Make sure absolutely no one sees you
Sent on July 30, 2009, by married father-of-two Tiger Woods to his porn star lover Josly James (real name, Veronica Siwik-Daniels), at the start of their affair.
The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human
The 26-word, 160-character (with spaces) message used by Guinness World Records to measure speed texting. The current record of 25.94 seconds was set on August 22, 2010, by Melissa Thompson, 27, from Salford, Greater Manchester.
An Afrikaans expletive, meaning ‘dumb c***’ that was part of one of the texts allegedly sent to his South African compatriots by England Test cricketer Kevin Pietersen, attacking captain Andrew Strauss (also born in South Africa).
A crazy man is shooting here
Sent at 5.10 on July 22, 2011, by Norwegian teenager Julie Bremnes, trapped on Utoeya Island. So began perhaps the most chilling sequence of texts ever. For the next two hours, Julie and her mother Marianne messaged back and forth while Anders Breivik went on his killing spree, shooting 69 victims. They provide a minute-by-minute account of the horror.
Sure. See you later. Have a good evening
Sent on November 1, 2007, by American student Amanda Knox to Patrick Lumumba, boss of Le Chic, the bar in Perugia, Italy, where she worked, after he had told her she would not be needed that night.
Knox later accused Lumumba of murdering her British flatmate Meredith Kercher. This text was taken by prosecutors as proof that the pair had, in fact, conspired together.
Knox had denied sending the text. Her supporters maintained that “see you later” was just a turn of phrase, not a literal suggestion that they would in fact meet up. In the end both Lumumba and Knox were acquitted of the killing.
Will you marry me?
The first known text proposal, sent in 1999 by salesman Grant Strange to his girlfriend, who responded: ‘Yes. Yes. Yes. XXX’