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The term originally referred to messages sent using the Short Message Service (SMS).
It has grown beyond alphanumeric text to include multimedia messages (known as MMS) containing digital images, videos, and sound content, as well as ideograms known as emoji (happy faces, sad faces, and other icons).
In 1933, the German Reichspost (Reich postal service) introduced the first "telex" service.
Friedhelm Hillebrand conceptualised SMS in 1984 while working for Deutsche Telekom.
Like e-mail and voicemail, and unlike calls (in which the caller hopes to speak directly with the recipient), texting does not require the caller and recipient to both be free at the same moment; this permits communication even between busy individuals.
Almost every time, the messages contained fewer than 160 characters, thus giving the basis for the limit one could type via text messaging.Advertisers and service providers use direct text marketing to send messages to mobile users about promotions, payment due dates, and other notifications instead of using postal mail, email, or voicemail.The service is referred to by different colloquialisms depending on the region.In countries such as Finland, Sweden and Norway, over 85% of the population use SMS.The European average is about 80%, and North America is rapidly catching up with over 60% active users of SMS by end of 2008 Text messaging is most often used between private mobile phone users, as a substitute for voice calls in situations where voice communication is impossible or undesirable (e.g., during a school class or a work meeting).
E-mail messaging from phones, as popularized by NTT Docomo's i-mode and the RIM Black Berry, also typically use standard mail protocols such as SMTP over TCP/IP.