HPY BDAY 2 U: 15th birthday of text messaging systems

It's only been 15 years since SMS text messaging systems were created. Now, look how brevity has become the soul of thumb-powered wit. What started as a way to send service alerts to wireless customers over the GSM cellular system has morphed, first becoming a two-way messaging standard, acquiring the ability to send from one cellular company's customers to another's, and then making the jump from GSM to other mobile telephone systems, such as IS-136 'TDMA' and IS-95 'CDMA', and the cellphone-like iDEN two-way radio system.

Google even offers a free add-on to send SMS from within Firefox, Microsoft offers text message sending for Windows Genuine Advantage enrollees, and SMS-email and email-SMS gateways extend it even further, making texting extremely useful when cellular voice capacity is overloaded.

Teens on pay-as-you-go plans found texting stretched their budgets, the deaf abandoned bulky TDD machines for cell phones, and the radio paging industry is in a tailspin because SMS is stealing their lunch money.

Of course, cellular companies now look at SMS as a profit center, although only with a meager average 90% profit margin.