From Amputations by SMS to Texts from the Pope

 - Dec 8, 2008
Before the era of Twitter and 140-character micro-blogging, there was SMS and text messaging. It’s hard to believe how much text messaging has evolved since the early days of SMS-speak (C U L8R?).

Today’s texter can receive not only short messages from their friends, but also pictures, links and video. And they’ll receive messages from friends as well as their credit card company, spammers and third-party applications.

The minor inconvenience that SMS spam poses also allows a user to text message for some pretty sweet services. In Finland, SMS opens bathroom doors; elsewhere, Trapster lets you alert other drivers of speed traps, control UFOs and even read religious sermons.

These capabilities sound pretty superficial, but text messaging saved a Congolese boy’s life when British surgeon David Nott was faced with a decision to either perform an exceedingly risky amputation he’d never before conducted or let the boy die in the hospital. He text messaged a colleague, who had successfully performed the amputation, and received explicit details on how to conduct the procedure--all via SMS.