So we finally have somebody to blame for the 160 character limit on SMS. The LA Times did a bit of investigative reporting into the history of the 160 characters and spoke to the persona responsible; Friedhelm Hillebrand. The poor German chap didn’t get rich for developing the SMS standard but he explains how it came about.
In 1985 he sat at his typewriter and tried to find the optimal length for a text message. He wrote out a few sentences and found that the characters were always under 160. He then got his magic number and forced the new standard on all GSM carriers as chairman of the nonvoice services committee of the Global System for Mobile Communications Group in 1986… Sounds like ancient history but it really took off. Especially since the standard was built around mobile car phones back in day.
Nowadays we are still stuck with the “Magic” 160 character limit and have created a whole new way to combine words to fit inside that limit.
Image Credit: Friedhelm Hillebrand