30 June 2015
- From the section Technology
Matti Makkonen, who helped to launch the worldwide sensation of texting, has died at the age of 63 after an illness.
Makkonen became known as the father of SMS after developing the idea of sending messages via mobile networks.
Despite the nickname, he was often quick to point out that he did not invent the technology single-handedly.
In 2012, he told BBC News – in an SMS interview – that he believed texting in some form would be around “forever”.
Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the first text message, Makkonen said that he considered the development of SMS a joint effort and that it was Nokia who helped to popularise the service.
“The real launch of the service, as I see it, was when Nokia introduced the first phone that enabled easy writing of messages (Nokia 2010 in 1994),” he said.
He added that he did not use “txt spk” himself, though he pointed out that texting could be thought of as having had an impact on the development of language.
Jarmo Matilainen, managing director of Finnish telecoms group Finnet Association, had been working with Makkonen, himself a former managing director of Finnet Ltd, in recent years.
He described Makkonen as a “grand old man of the mobile industry”.
“It’s very sad. He was just going to retire and he should have had many years ahead,” said Matilainen, who added that Makkonen’s fascination with communications technology had been irrepressible.
“We liked to talk about SMS and that kind of thing, 3G and so on. He liked to talk about this all time,” he said.