America’s First Ever Text Message: ‘Burp’

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Yes, “Burp.” Oh dear.

That’s the trouble with key moments in history: Very often, the people involved have no idea that they’re taking part in a key moment in history.

Most of time it’s just another ordinary day where you brush your teeth, go to work, and type the word “Burp” in a message to your boss. Happens all the time.

This particular moment in history was June 7th, 1993. Brennan Hayden was an engineer working for Aldiscon, a telecommunications firm hired by FleetCall to set up this newfangled messaging system.

Tasked with sending a test message to his FleetCall bosses, Hayden sent “Burp.” Why “Burp?” He told Wireless Week:

“The idea was the phone was getting the first message, it was a baby, anthropomorphization of the phone. There was dead silence, and then they said, ‘Send a different message.’ So I sent something like ‘Watson come here.'”

It might have been the first SMS in the U.S., but it wasn’t the first in the world. That honor went to Neil Papworth in the U.K., who sent the words “Merry Christmas” to a colleague on December 3rd, 1992.

SMS has come a long, long way since then. It has changed the way people, especially teenagers, communicate. It’s been adapted and turned to all sorts of uses, such as instant payments. In Kenya, it does a pretty good job of providing banking services to millions.

Back to the present day, and someone, probably in the area of Cupertino, must have recently been responsible for sending the first ever iMessage during tests for Apple’s new service, announced on Monday.

Let’s hope it wasn’t “Burp”. Knowing Apple, it probably wasn’t.

(Via Wireless Week)