Tag Archives: sms

Why Twitter only allows 140 Characters

Having been bitten by the Twitter bug, I found this article interesting. I mean, in this day of streaming HD video over wireless networks, why are text messages limited to 160 characters? The answer is so practical (that it is borderline boring) and it dates from the 1980’s.

SMS-father Friedman Hillebrand pounded out random statements, questions and thoughts on a typewriter. He kept an average character count. His team also found that the average message on the back of a postcard was under 160 characters.

Whereas Twitter used the exact same rationale as Hillebrand except they kept the first 20 characters allotted for the sender’s name.

To be honest I was hoping for something more tech inspired and exotic than the reasons given. But I can’t tell you how pleased I was that a typewriter was used in determining the optimal length of “useful” message.