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The electrical telegraph systems, developed in the early 19th century, used simple electrical signals to sent text messages.
In the late 19th century, the wireless telegraphy was developed using radio waves.
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.
As of 2017, text messages are used by youth and adults for personal, family and social purposes and in business.
Governmental and non-governmental organizations use text messaging for communication between colleagues.
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As with emailing, in the 2010s, the sending of short informal messages has become an accepted part of many cultures.
This makes texting a quick and easy way to communicate with friends and colleagues, including in contexts where a call would be impolite or inappropriate (e.g., calling very late at night or when one knows the other person is busy with family or work activities).
It may simply be referred to as a "text" in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, an "SMS" in most of mainland Europe, or an "MMS" or "SMS" in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
The sender of a text message is commonly referred to as a "texter".
Under SS7, it is a "state" with a 160 character data, coded in the ITU-T "T.56" text format, that has a "sequence lead in" to determine different language codes, and may have special character codes that permits, for example, sending simple graphs as text.