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20 years on, texting more popular than ever

Monday 03 Dec 2012 6:11p.m.

20 years since first text message

It's 20 years today since the first text message was sent by Vodafone in the UK, with the first being sent in New Zealand four years later.

A police blitz on cellphone usage while driving found most of us obey the law by not texting while driving, but that's not to say we're not doing it all together.

3 News counted more than 400 commuters driving in Wellington this morning, of which only five were using their cellphones – a figure that’s in line with police results, which say most of us know driving and texting is a dangerous combination.

“Since 2007 we've had about 28 fatalities that have been linked to the use of cellphones in cars, so it's just simply not acceptable,” says national manager of road policing Supt Carey Griffith.

But outside the car, New Zealanders are spending a lot of time texting. Since the first text was sent here 16 years ago, the three largest networks now estimate there are more than five million cellphone users in the country sending more than 41 million texts a day.

Canterbury University professor Kevin Watson says it's changed the way we communicate.

“People use text messages in real speak, so you get this LOL meaning laugh out loud, and for some speakers it has crossed over to become a word-like thing,” says Professor Watson.

The first-ever text was on December 3, 1992 by Neil Papworth, a Vodafone UK employee.

“It wasn't until the 10th anniversary of texting I realised, wow that was a big thing, and here we are 10 years later and text messaging has gone onto bigger and better things,” says Mr Papworth.

Despite the increase in texting, Prof Watson says fears it is ruining spelling and grammar aren't warranted.

“Kids and everybody else still know the rules of English but they use this particular style in text messages because that's what they've learnt is the appropriate style for that genre,” he says.

Vodafone figures also show texting is increasingly more popular than calling, which means for those who say it has GTG – that's "got to go" – you're out of luck.

3 News

 
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