Matti Makkonen, the man who was considered “the father of SMS,” has died at the age of 63.
Makkonen was from Finland, and in 1984, pitched the idea of text messaging during a telecom conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. However, Makkonen was not given any credit, nor did he make any money off of his idea, because he did not apply for a patent.
‘SMS did develop greatly after Makkonen’s direct involvement — the 160 character format was determined in 1985 by communications researcher Friedham Hillebrand, for instance, and it wasn’t until 1992 that Neil Papworth sent the first message — to Vodafone’s director Richard Jarvis at a work party.
Makkonen kept his work on the idea quiet, and it took a newspaper investigation for his identity to become known. Later, in a famous interview with the BBC in 2012 on the 20th anniversary of the technology — conducted, of course, by SMS — Makkonen said “I did not consider sms as personal achievement but as result of joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them”.’
Makkonen became CEO of Finnet Oy in 2003, and held the position until 2005. In 2008 he was named a winner of The Economist’s Innovation awards.