udas writes "Two thirds of the world's population, 4 billion people, use cell phones today, and all of them have access to SMS. Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM), set up in 1982, created the GSM standard, leading to a unified, open, standard-based mobile network. SMS, up to 160 7-bit character messages sent over control channels (when they aren't busy), was part of the original GSM specification itself. The first GSM handsts were approved for sale in May 1992. But it was not until 1996, when pay-as-you-go SIM cards showed up, and the kids got their hands on it, that SMS gained popularity."
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