[Air-L] Great book on the history of SMS

richard.ling at telenor.com richard.ling at telenor.com
Sat Feb 20 07:14:02 PST 2010

Hello all,

I have just received a copy of the book by Hillebrand, Trosby, Holley and Harris on the development of SMS. It is unique because these are the people who headed up its development. They give a first person account of where SMS came from and the process associated with its development. 

It is interesting reading since it give the process from which SMS arose. For example, they describe how it moved from being seen as "an enhanced 'paging' service" (i.e. a system that could send messages only to the mobile device), to becoming a two-way messaging system. There is discussion with regards their concerns about only the ability to write using the keypad and the multi-touch system and many other interesting details. It is written by engineers and so there can be some engineering jargon, but in general it is accessible to the interested reader. 

The authors and others who were involved in the specification of SMS have sent some of the material to the ETSI website at:


Below is the blurb from the back of the book.

Rich L. 

Short Message Service (SMS): The Creation of Personal Global Text Messaging 

Written to celebrate the 25th anniversary of SMS standardization by the people who produced the standards, Short Message Service (SMS): The Creation of Personal Text Messaging, describes the development of the SMS standard and its ongoing evolution. The standardization of SMS started in February 1985 as a part of the creation of the second generation digital cellular system GSM, and the 25th anniversary of the first work on SMS provides an opportunity to review and understand how this service was developed. The book also looks to the future, as a large number of new GSM and evolved GSM phones will support SMS as a mass market high availability messaging service, a new simple Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) suitable for use by everyone and for implementation in every new terminal is proposed.

One of the only books which covers the complete SMS genesis from concept ideas to standardization of a first technical solution and its evolution to the present day.

Describes the service concept including the limitation of the message length to 160 characters and explains the rationale behind the concept.

Based on existing and newly retrieved documentation.

Concludes that SMS has a long future since most future GSM phones will support SMS as the only messaging service, and so an SMS evolution is put forward.

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