Why SMS is limited to 160 characters?

Why 160 why not more? Have we ever asked ourselves why SMS length is fixed to 160 characters only? SMS is the oldest application to be used in GSM phones. Currently it has more than 3 billion active users. It’s an age old application but we are hardly seeing any modification/up gradation with the advent of new technology. Yes we did see the upcoming of MMS but SMS remained the same.
Ever wondered why 160 characters? One day while going through some bookmarks in Delicious, I found an article on the same. I found it irresistible to share and go this way…
Alone in a room in his home in Bonn, Germany, Friedhelm Hillebrand sat at his typewriter, tapping out random sentences and questions on a sheet of paper.
As he went along, Hillebrand counted the number of letters, numbers, punctuation marks and spaces on the page. Each blurb ran on for a line or two and nearly always clocked in fewer than 160 characters.
That became Hillebrand's magic number -- and set the standard for one of today's most popular forms of digital communication: text messaging.
"This is perfectly sufficient," he recalled thinking during that epiphany of 1985, when he was 45 years old. "Perfectly sufficient."
Another popular implementation of this magical number is Twitter. To avoid the need for splitting cellular text messages into multiple parts, the creators of Twitter fixed the length of a tweet at 140 characters, keeping the extra 20 for the user's unique address.
Re-posting this article here on my website.


  1. As you said , Sms is the oldest application for mobiles device but now adays there is million of people who use it , One main reason is because is cheaper than making a call.

  2. Hi Nishant,
    i read almost all of your post,quite interesting and imparting the knowledge.
    keep it up.


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