Since it’s the week after Christmas and we’re revving up to face the imminent arrival of 2018, we thought it would be fun to have a nostalgic look back at some of the festive text message traditions of the past and what they mean to modern communications.

Did you know that the humble text message celebrated its 25th birthday this December? With the first text ever sent being “Merry Christmas”. British software engineer Neil Papworth sent this festive greeting to a Vodafone co-worker on the night of their Christmas Party. Little did Neil know that, at just 22 years old, he would be transforming communications forever.

Remember the time before emoijs when we used to create faces and increasingly elaborate things using nothing but the limits of an alphanumerical key pad? :-0 Were you the owner of a little book of plain text emoticons? Said to have been invented in the 80’s for use in online forums, these simple icons quickly developed into a mass craze. Did you ever find yourself sending something like this in a text or email, or maybe it was your MySpace bio at some point?

When MSN Messenger, Myspace and other social platforms gained mainstream popularity in the late 90’s, we saw the humble text message take a new digital form beyond email and mobile. The humble semi-colon, bracket smiley face evolved into tiny icons, close to the emojis we know today. You could even download special Christmas emoticons and GIFs to share with your friends, something that we can now see on Facebook Messenger too.

Early text messages had limits on how many characters and words you could use per message, hence the invention of “txt tlk”. With this in mind it’s easy to see how this mobile phone innovation went on to inspire the creation of platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and WhatsApp.

So, let’s raise a glass to the text message on its 25th birthday and sprinkle a little emoticon magic to add some cheer to our written words.