Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the first SMS ever sent. Initially designed as a way to send messages for internal carrier operations, the first “personal” SMS message was sent on Dec. 3rd 1992 between two Vodafone employees. The content of that message was “Merry Christmas”. About a year later, Nokia introduced the first cell-phone capable of sending text messages. A fever was just started.

Those early messages, limited to 160 characters, influenced society in such a way that new frms of language were created. TTL, LOL, 10Q, BRB… we learned to summarize long speeches in short messages and, slowly but steadily, SMS usage outgrew that of mobile phone calls. And the trend has stayed like this until now when, at the time it is turning 20, the SMS seems to be finally slowing down. WhatsApp, iMessage, Viber… too much competition. Perhaps the SMS will be retiring soon. Anyhow, happy birthday SMS!

Read more at CNN and Wall Street Journal.

Six billion SMS (short message service) messages are sent every day in the United States, according to Forrester Research, and over 2.2 trillion are sent a year. Globally, 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year, according to Portio Research.

It seems tacky to bring this up on its birthday, but this may also be the year the text message peaks. After two decades of constant growth, text messaging is finally slowing down as people move to smartphones and use third-party messaging tools to circumvent wireless carriers’ costly per-text charges.

SMS messaging is expected to be a $150 billion-a-year industry in 2013, with carriers charging set monthly fees for unlimited texting, or as much as 20 cents per text. The actual cost to carriers for sending a text message is about 0.03 cents.