Ever wonder why you’re limited to a measley 160 characters for SMS?

by Mike
Posted May 4th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Like many people conversing through the more heavier details in life through SMS messaging, I quickly realize just how few characters the 160 alotted characters you are allowed in SMS messaging really are.  Heck, because of such limited space, another entire text based language has sprung up in order to make the most of your messages.  For the last couple of years I have been spoiled with my various Blackberries and iPhone (and now Blackberry again) with the much greater breathing room offered to me.  On Blackberries, you can more or less go past the 160 character limit without having to stop every ever 30 second to send what you have, open another blank texting page and send a new text.  However, it isn’t really any different than texting on any other phone.  All the Blackberry allows you to do is type out a total of 6 pages 160 characters long each.  It keeps track of the pages and send them in order seemless all behind the scenes without you doing anything different.  This is but one way of getting around the limit that seems older than dirt itself.  But just how did the 160 limit come to be imposed upon all of the peoples of the world?  Technological limitation?  Human choice?  Come right inside and all will be revealed.

The man that has been recognized as the “father of text messaging” goes by the name of Friedhelm Hillebrand.  Back in 1985, Hillebrand came up with a solution in order to more effectively and efficiently communicate with mobile craftsman while they were on the move.  This new breakthrough was of course, SMS (short message service) messaging.  SMS messaging allowed people to communicate quickly  while on the move when taking a phone call wasn’t always possible.  The thing that really got the push for mass SMS acceptance going was that Mr. Hillebrand just so happened to be chairman of “Global System for Mobile Communications”, or more popularly known to mere mortals as GSM.

Ok, so Mr, Hillebrand brought us text messaging, but why the 160 character limit?  Many people believe that it is a technological limitation left over from some dreaded piece of archaic equipment still being used well past it’s lifetime today.  However that isn’t actually the case.  The real reason is that after studying the issue at hand for quite some time, Mr. Hillebrand concluded that a majority of important and breaking news was already “voiced” in text in 150 characters or less: ex. Postcards.  Since people were already used to communicating in such few words, the birth of the 160 character limit was born.  But why 160 and not 150?  Well, I guess he was feeling generous and decided to throw in the extra 10 characters for good measure.  I don’t know.  But at least you now know the real reason for the SMS character limit.  Your life is now complete.

Source: Mobile Crunch, Image Source

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3 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • biotech coaching
    November 16, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    For the last couple of years I have been spoiled with my various Blackberries and iPhone (and now Blackberry again) with the much greater breathing room offered to me.

    • Mike
      November 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm

      Yup, me too. No more 160 character limit crap for me. Of course, I haven’t such a limit in some time either…

  • Gib
    May 5, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Haha wow that’s crazy. And a side note: Verizon BB’s still limit at 160 characters. It’s plenty depressing.

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