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Hi Neil, congrats on
20 yrs of SMS!


R u celebrating today?

I am yes. I will b txting a few friends l8ter. Then ordering a pint at the pub ;-)

Nice one! 4 the record, what were the first words ever sent via sms?

They were
“Merry Christmas”

Very cheerful, esp compared to ‘What hath God wrought?’ or ‘Mr. Watson come here’. Why those words?

What else r u going 2 send to an Xmas party?

Indeed. So you sent that to Vodafone executive Richard Jarvis. Did he txt back?

No! But he wasn’t being rude - back then phones could only receive, not send them.

He must have looked pretty cool at that party rockin the new Orbitel 901

Orbitel 901 phone

Yeah. With a friend to help carry it ;-)

ha! For sure. So ru still in touch w Richard? Do u guys txt?

No, I don’t. We did meet at the 15th anniversary in London and had a good chat!

Oh good. So u weren’t mad that he’d been out partying while u were pulling a late one that nite back in 92.

It was during the day! His boss was probably wondering why he wasn’t at work!

:-) Is there anybody else crucial to sms u think shld b acknowledged and currently isnt?

Well I didn’t invent SMS, I just sent the 1st. So kudos to all those GSM guys who worked hard to produce the standards we used for the implementation...

Cool. So Neil, at what point did u realize SMS was like, a really big deal ?

On the 10th anniversary. I’d never even thought about its growth until it hit the news then...

What impact has sms had on ur life personally?

Not much really, apart from a few minutes of fame each year on December 3rd, and a ribbing from my friends when my picture is published!

Do u txt much urslf? Do u feel any knd of special attachment to it?

Not a huge amount - maybe 10-15 times a week. I’m not nostalgic about it, but I know I can always rely on it

So r u super fast at txtng, seeing how u had a head start on us all?

My wife used to call me the fastest texter in the west. Until I got a smartphone :-(

So u were actually faster on the old handsets?

After 10 years with or without predictive text, my thumbs were experts!

Every have any 'autocorrect disasters' ?


Nope. But I know when using predictive text and spelling the word “beer” it isn’t the first suggested word, so I always knew how many times to go to the next suggestion.

ok so what’s the first suggested word?

“addr” - it thinks you are trying to spell “address”

u mentioned that u can be verbose at times. ironic, as ur a pioneer of the 160character medium. do u appreciate that txt space is unlimited on smrtphones?

Makes no difference, it's still a pain typing it on a touchscreen!

ha! So which is more remarkable for u: how much SMS has advanced since 92, or how much has stayed the same?

SMS itself has actually barely changed. But its use and applications have taken off in a mind-boggling way

Would you send two pictures please: one of you now and one of you back in '92?

OMG, the hair:-(.  See attached.  Fortunately, camera phones were not around in 1992 to capture more like that...

Neil young

Neil old

Lookin sharp! So let's get down to it, Papworth. Have u ever used your claim-to-fame as a pickup line?

Nope! I didn't even think to mention it to my wife for years after we met. I've used it to try and get better service, but it's NEVER worked!

No way! So have u ever been recognized and stopped on the street?

Nope. Not even the day I was on the front page of the local equivalent of the "metro" newspaper. I guess everyone was still half-awake :-)

OK, so u didn't move to Canada to get away from the fame?

No. That was just because Canada's a great place to live

And what kind of projects are you working on now? Anything revolutionary?

I work for Tekelec. We develop next generation routing products that enable operators to keep networks running at maximum capacity

And what kind of developments today in mobile tech do u find most compelling?

I'll tell you what doesn't... Smaller is not always better! I'd double the thickness of smartphones to make batteries last a week, not a day. Like my old Nokia did!

r u into social media like Twitter and Instagram?

No, other than Facebook. I don't have enough time!

Do u expect that in another 10 years, sms will still be happening?

Yes. Smartphones are beyond the reach of much of the world's population - SMS is cheap, straightforward, quick and works on any phone

Neil, it's been gr8 txtng to you. We've made something in ur honor. It's no marble statue. But here it goes...

Ha ha - that’s very good!

#thxneil, 4 ur time and 4 ur work. And of course...

Merry Christmas Christmas tree

And Merry Christmas to u 2!