The finnish engineer Matti Makkonen passed away last friday, at the age of 63.
Even if he never patented the solution he is widely know as the father of the SMS.
In 1984 Makkonen first presented the idea during a conference, and in England in 1992 the first SMS was sent with the short message “Merry Christmas”.
SMS is short for Short Message Service.
It was originally designed for GSM, and even if it now is avaliable almost everywhere, the original standard remains from the GSM-days. There are a number of recommendations that describes how text in different alphabets and special characters should be encoded to be sent by SMS, but as with any recommendations different operators handles it differently.
A common rule is that one SMS can be 140 byte at most, that is 1 120 bits. Since any normal characters uses 7 bits, the length of an SMS is the well know 160 characters. If you use smileys or exotic characters, the maximum number of characters can change quite a bit.
The standard will theoretically allow a long text to be divided in up to 255 linked SMS, but in practice you will normally draw the line at 6-10 linked SMS. This is partly because the rate of delivery will go down by the number of parts, worst case if one part is missing the phone cannot display the message at all.
Linked SMS will contain, apart from the message, also some information to the phone about the number of parts and so on. This makes the actual number of characters per linked SMS to be 153 characters.
Our thoughts are with Makkonen and his family today, he certainly left an impression on the world.