The text was sent by telecoms engineer Neil Papworth, who was working at the time for Sema Group Telecoms. He was was part of the team developing a Short Message Service Centre (SMSC) for Vodafone UK.
What is commonly overlooked is that the message was not, in fact, sent from a phone, but from a PC, since mobiles at that time did not have alphanumeric keyboards. It was sent to a man called Richard Jarvis who was working at Vodafone, and it read simply ‘Happy Christmas’.
In the current issue of our quarterly magazine, we have an in-depth look at the history of SMS. You can access the magazine online here. Head for p12 for the SMS feature.