Matti Makkonen, nicknamed "the father of SMS" due to his contribution to the development of texting, died at age 63.
Were it not for this forward-thinking man, the world may not know texting as it is. Makkonen pitched the idea of text messaging over cellular networks more than two decades ago, back in 1984, at a telecoms conference in Copenhagen. He never patented the idea, but it was that pitch that paved the way to many advances in technology.
Makkonen's work was seen as crucial to the success of Short Messaging Service (SMS) technology, although it was not until Dec. 3, 1992 that Neil Papworth sent the very first text message at a work party, with Vodafone director Richard Jarvis as the message recipient.
The idea for SMS technology is widely credited to Makkonen, but he always regarded the idea as a joint effort between Friedham Hillebrand, who created the 160-character format in 1985, as well as others who contributed to the technology advances.
In today's mobile-driven world, a number of messaging services may outshine the SMS, but there's no doubt that SMS technology got the ball rolling and paved the way for more advances. Even the popular Twitter micro-blogging platform is based on the principles of SMS, which is why it came with a 140-character limit. At the same time, even with all the messaging services such as WhatsApp, Viber and many others, SMS is still an essential means of communication in many areas where mobile Internet is either censored or too costly.
In an interview with the BBC back in 2012, celebrating the 20th anniversary of SMS, Makkonnen predicted that SMS would live on for a long time, in one way or another.
"I believe that reliable convenient to use text messaging will stay forever. Is not necessary what we call sms. No more pay per message," said Makonnen.
Fast forward to the present date and the BCC now reports that Makonnen has died at the age of 63, after struggling with an illness. His work, however, will live on, as the world enjoys communicating via text messages.