Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Text Messages Are Limited To 160 Characters

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the how-many-characters-do-you-really-need dept.

Communications 504

The LA Times has a story about Friedhelm Hillebrand, one of the communications researchers behind efforts to standardize various cell phone technologies. In particular, he worked out the 160 character limit for text messages. "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 under 160 characters. That became Hillebrand's magic number ... Looking for a data pipeline that would fit these micro messages, Hillebrand came up with the idea to harness a secondary radio channel that already existed on mobile networks. This smaller data lane had been used only to alert a cellphone about reception strength and to supply it with bits of information regarding incoming calls. ... Initially, Hillebrand's team could fit only 128 characters into that space, but that didn't seem like nearly enough. With a little tweaking and a decision to cut down the set of possible letters, numbers and symbols that the system could represent, they squeezed out room for another 32 characters.

cancel ×

504 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I'll Be Damned (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816909)

And all this time I was almost certain that it was based on sound scientific research proving that 160 characters was the maximum amount of text a cell phone user could read before completely losing interest.

Re:I'll Be Damned (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27816955)

Technically, it was the largest number that Hillebrand could count to in his mind before losing track.

Re:I'll Be Damned (1, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816963)

Are you kidding? They lose interest based on who it's from long before any reading of text messages is required.... except for mobile twitterers. Nobody can explain that.

Re:I'll Be Damned (5, Funny)

JeffSpudrinski (1310127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816967)

The few times I've tried messaging from my cell phone, my thumbs cramp after about 50 characters, so the "limitation" never affects me.

Re:I'll Be Damned (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817643)

<joke type="bad">Noob</joke>

I actually IMed two times for half an hour. Messages flied non stop. Why? Waiting for night public transportation for cca 45min can be sortof ... boring. I was desperate, even at expense of my fingers.

Re:I'll Be Damned (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816969)

tl;dr

Re:I'll Be Damned (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817189)

fb

Re:I'll Be Damned (3, Funny)

bunratty (545641) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816989)

I guess you had something interesting to say on that second line, but I lost interest at the end of the first.

Re:I'll Be Damned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27816999)

You might want to make two posts next time. Character count with space = 208.

Re:I'll Be Damned (5, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817451)

You might want to make two posts next time. Character count with space = 208.

Don't start me. I know any number of supposedly intelligent people who are apparently incapable of reading a simple email containing a series of questions or points.

They will respond to the first question, but anything after that is consigned to /dev/null. I occasionally get cranky about it and send off a series of single-sentence emails, with the query in the sentence line.

I don't know whether it's my circle of acquaintances, but the worst offenders seem to be MBAs. (Maybe it really does mean Master of Bugger-All). Or maybe it's just the Simpsonisation of society that gives it the attention span of a flea.

Re:I'll Be Damned (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817005)

And all this time I was almost certain that it was based on sound scientific research proving that 160 characters was the maximum amount of text a cell phone us...

I totally lost interest past that.

Re:I'll Be Damned (2, Funny)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817037)

And all this time I was almost certain that it was based on sound scientific research proving that 160 characters was the maximum amount of text a cell phone user could read before completely losing interest.

I don't get your point. All I read was: "And all this time I was almost certain that it was based on sound scientific research proving that 160 characters was the maximum amount of text a cell phone u".

Re:I'll Be Damned (4, Funny)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817455)

I don't get your point. All I read was "I don't get your point. All I read was: "And all this time I was almost certain that it was based on sound scientific research proving that 160 characters was t"

Re:I'll Be Damned (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817265)

What?

Re:I'll Be Damned (-1, Redundant)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817285)

Sorry, I lost interest in your post right around 'cell phone'... After that, it was inexplicably uninteresting.

Re:I'll Be Damned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817303)

... or before they rear-ended the car in front of them.

Re:I'll Be Damned (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817329)

Gee... I thought it was because the collision rate for morons reading text messages while driving went way up for messages longer than 160 characters!

no, its because 160 (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816953)

is the bastard offspring of the union of the hexdecimal and the decimal, literally 16*10

all of us techies straddle these two worlds. 160 is our numerology of frustration, the techie 666

Re:no, its because 160 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817007)

it also happens to be precisely 2 lines of text on a good old 80 character wide terminal.

Re:no, its because 160 (4, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817113)

80 characters (bytes) just happened to be how many punched you can normally fit on a standard punch card.

BINGO! (4, Informative)

wonkavader (605434) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817271)

And a full-screen terminal (3270, etc.) is really just 25 punch cards. You press "Enter" and they get submitted. Your batch processes and the system returns you 25 punch cards which your smart 3270 punch card reader/editor displays for you.

Punch cards are based on the civil-war-era dollar bill because there were already machine to count and stack dollar bills.

Punch cards were IBM's most profitable product ever until the introduction of the IBM PC.

Re:BINGO! (5, Informative)

OlRickDawson (648236) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817557)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_card [wikipedia.org] Punch cards predate the computer, because they were used in loom machines to generate paterns. The punch cards were later used for statistical purposes. IBM was already selling statistical machines that used the punch cards before the computer. The reason that IBM was able to grab the market instead of Univac, is because IBM's computers was compatible with the punch cards that the corporations already had.

Re:no, its because 160 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817017)

is the bastard offspring of the union of the hexdecimal and the decimal, literally 0xF*10

fixed that for you

Re:no, its because 160 (5, Informative)

SgtPepperKSU (905229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817065)

is the bastard offspring of the union of the hexdecimal and the decimal, literally 0xF*10

fixed that for you

Are you joking?
0x10*10...

Re:no, its because 160 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817079)

Fail. 16 is 0x10.

Re:no, its because 160 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817147)

math fail... slashdot before my second cup of office coffee (ie the crappy kind) is a bad idea... i'll hand in my geek card on the way out.

Re:no, its because 160 (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817667)

is the bastard offspring of the union of the hexdecimal and the decimal, literally 16*10

all of us techies straddle these two worlds. 160 is our numerology of frustration, the techie 666

Now where the hell did Slashdot's 120 character sig limit come from?

Why text messages instead of email? (5, Insightful)

loshwomp (468955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816985)

The real question should be "Why are we still using ancient text messages instead of regular email?" All of my friends in Japan regularly do full-on email on their phones, and only have a vague-if-any notion of what a regular "text message" is elsewhere. 160-character limit? That is *so* 1990s.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817015)

Because the majority of US cellphone users still can't access internet on their phones...

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (2, Interesting)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817077)

Thats because the majority of Internet Providers restrict their users from sending email from relaying off network to their network. These same providers refuse to enable authenticated SMTP to fix the problem of open relays.

Luckily my cell phone provider, Rogers, in Canada has a mobile SMTP server accessable from the cellular network only specifically for the purpose of relaying SMTP from mail accounts configured on smart phones.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

Penguin Follower (576525) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817327)

My ISP has SMTP authentication enabled. :) Earthlink.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

ubercam (1025540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817621)

My provider (MTS, in Manitoba, Canada) allows me to send/receive texts to/from email addresses. While they are limited to the size of regular texts, for billing purposes they also count as one. Just send a short email to [10DigitNumber]@text.mts.net. It's not a full email client or anything, but it's perfect for my needs and I use it all the time. The only downside is that MTS unfortunately doesn't split up texts that are too large. Incoming ones just get cut off, outgoing ones don't even get sent.

On the DSL side of things, they don't have authenticated SMTP either, but I believe they restrict access to their IP block. For everyone else there's webmail.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (5, Interesting)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817213)

I laughed a little when I read your comment. Stupid USA, no internet on their cell phones! Get with the times.

It occured to me shortly after, that I don't have internet on my cell phone either. A sad truth.

Interestingly, quite a few companies all have a vested interest in keeping society from progress. I mean, just a few articles back, we had an example of the newspaper industry just not getting it. My gut feeling? Wouldn't it make sense, instead of a billion different newsbook-readers, each for it's own brand of newspaper, just let me get my news on the cell phone?

And suddenly I see the problem- we don't have internet on our phones because NOBODY wants us to have the access that snuck up on US companies.

Corporations wildly mis-underestimated how the internet would take off. Instead of investing in it then, or learning from their mistakes, they're not investing in it now. So we still have companies fighting the internet. Even the internet companies are fighting us having internet.

Too late though, cat's out of the bag, and once you've seen it, you can never go back. I will never settle for a dumbed-down version of the internet, and going back to buying CDs (I buy mp3s) and purchasing cable (I watch hulu, and rent netflix).

Once we ALL have email on our internet enabled phones, we won't be able to be charged for each txt message. The internet is a pipeline, we can use email, IM, twitter, or whatever we please to communicate. This will be the undoing of the txt addons in the same way internet TV has/will ruin subscription cable.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817453)

So true. Europe is years ahead of the US for cell service, and Japan, forget about it.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817597)

I don't know about that, just earlier today I was reading a post from a slashdotter from Norway that said cellphone modem connections don't count as broadband by some technical definition yet the Verizon Rev A, AT&T 3G and Sprint 3G (not to mention their pilot 4G) network all fit his definition. Cost is still high, especially when you consider the low 5GB caps but with a modern smart phone the US networks are plenty advanced. Personally I love an OS 4.5 Blackberry and Safari on the iPhone 3G is very cool for pages that Opera mini doesn't parse well.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817677)

Because the majority of US cellphone users still can't access internet on their phones...

I won't comment on the US, but it doesn't take a huge technological leap to be able to access the internet at least by means of GPRS, which is plenty good enough for general email.

Trouble is, unless you have a comparatively expensive and bulky mobile device, it tends to be incredibly cumbersome to access email or anything else on the internet. The majority of normal phones tend to require overmuch prodding of buttons and squinting at undersized screens.

However, unless you have a lot to say (in which case you might as well just make a phone call), 160 characters isn't actually a bad limit for instant messages. It is usually sufficient to get a reasonably complex point across so long as one isn't unduly prolix.

Meru meru, meru meru (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817019)

Piruriparopirurora

Re:Meru meru, meru meru (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817695)

Pipiru piru piru pi piru pi
Pipiru piru piru pi piru pi
The bat that can do anyting, excalibolg!

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (4, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817083)

Because you can charge for SMS, while emails needs full Internet access. And they don't want to give us cheap Internet access.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

SolarCanine (892620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817655)

Mod +1 Insightful, not Flamebait, you insensitive mod!

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817103)

The account's set up with your phone number, uses the same user identifier, travels with the phone number, and there's a billing infrastructure for it. Meanwhile the vast majority of phone users don't even have packet data plans. It's operator inertia, basically.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817345)

I should clarify that I mean the SMS account here. If email was set up the same way, people would switch.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817353)

Because the packet data plans are insanely overpriced!

In the usa it's all about raping the consumer.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (2, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817107)

Because phone Internet access is incredibly expensive compared to text messages. Japan isn't a good example, they love any expensive gimmick.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817333)

I wouldn't say its exactly expensive. I have unlimited 5mbit 3g and it costs 30e/month. unlimited 256kbps goes for something like 5e/month.

Japan is a LOT smaller than the USA... (2, Insightful)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817399)

and it costs a lot less to upgrade their entire cell network, even if they are using vastly more expensive technology.
In fact, Japan land area: 377,835 square km

USA land area: 7,689,027 square km - you can fit quite a few Japans inside the USA.
This is the prime reason why US cell networks are so slow to get the latest and greatest...

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (5, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817159)

I think the Japanese and Chinese markets have completely ignored the SMS thing because of the character sets involved. If 160 latin characters can be compressed into about 128 bytes, how many hanzi can fit? Maybe forty? That's probably enough for some thoughts like "Meet you at train station at 11am" but nothing really more complicated than that.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (4, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817523)

If 160 latin characters can be compressed into about 128 bytes, how many hanzi can fit? Maybe forty?

Probably more like 64; two bytes is usually enough to represent just about anything. A clever encoding scheme might squeeze as many as 80 in. OTOH, each of those characters carries more information than a single character of English text. Not sure about Japanese, but most common Chinese words [pandagator.info] are only two characters long, so being able to include fewer characters shouldn't be a real issue.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (4, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817537)

128, at least, assuming UTF8. And the Japanese can say things a lot more compactly than we can:

èããY - I woke up.
åå¾OEãé£Yãã¾ã--ãY - I ate in the afternoon.
éf½éYã®åé"ãé話ã'ã--ã¾ã(TM) - I am talking on the telephone with my friend in Tokyo.

(Of course, the above won't come through correctly on Slashdot, but they are about half the characters of the English phrases.)

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817233)

The real question should be "Why are we still using ancient text messages instead of regular email?" All of my friends in Japan regularly do full-on email on their phones, and only have a vague-if-any notion of what a regular "text message" is elsewhere. 160-character limit? That is *so* 1990s.

Because email is free, and phone companies control the devices.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817319)

Not on the average cell phone it isn't.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (2, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817315)

"Why are we still using ancient text messages instead of regular email?"

I can't speak for everybody, but I use a Tracfone. Talking costs $.10 a minute, but text messages only cost me $.03 per message. I pay $6 per month for my phone (it's mostly for emergencies), and communicating by text message helps to spread out the amount of use I can get each month. One thing that's even better is the fact that my wife or I can text each other from our e-mail. It's easier if I'm at the store and my wife texts me to pick up eggs, milk, what-have-you, so I'll only use $.03 to get the same message I would have had to stop and answer the phone for $.10.

Re:Why text messages instead of email? (1)

ben0207 (845105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817549)

You PAY to RECEIVE calls or messages? What century is this?

Lame Typing (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816993)

And if you take in to account the lame typing abilities of today's Internet generation you could probably squeeze that under 100 Characters as all you need... I mean, "Hi wat u up 2?" or "Did u wanna come ovr 4 a movie 2night?" 160 Characters is overkill in my opinion :-) Mind you, my iPhone has no 160 character limit, I'm sure other smart phones just piece together the rapid recieving of messages in to one while the "dumb" phones display them in 160 character chunks.

Re:Lame Typing (3, Informative)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817371)

You'd like to believe it was your Jesusphone being that intelligent, but in reality, the SMS standard has supported message concatenation for at least the last ten years, if not since its inception. My Nokia 2110e [gsmarena.com] could turn it on and off, and you'd see the little counter for "remaining characters" go from 160 to 470 or so.

SMS vs email (4, Interesting)

pieterh (196118) | more than 5 years ago | (#27816995)

An exercise in cartel economics: compare the costs of SMS traffic vs. email traffic and explain the differences. :-)

Re:SMS vs email (0)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817157)

2 words: Cellular towers.

Re:SMS vs email (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817393)

Two words in response: Watermelon rutabaga.

My response is only slightly more inscrutable than yours. Care to explain how one or two packets being worth more than thousands of packets can be explained by the fact that all the data has to be carried by towers? Text messagers should be encouraged. You just ratchet up the base rate, and give away text messaging. That way you save money when people text, and they thank you for it. Then they do more texting, and you can use less-performant towers because you're carrying less data. The cellphone providers have driven people to use as many minutes as possible and then they want to charge us for it, which is why more and more people are looking for alternate phone services. The only reason we don't have THOSE is due to government collusion (there is no fucking way all these AT&T mergers should ever have been approved — why did we ever split up Ma Bell in the first place?)

Re:SMS vs email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817431)

Nope. Emails sent as TCP/IP data over the same cellular network are a tiny fraction of the cost of an SMS, despite much higher overhead.

Typical pricing for packet switched internet connectivity is 0.24 EUR per megabyte, in 10kB increments, pay-as-you-go. (That's a rip-off. If you use the internet regularly, there are more economic plans.) Even if you don't spread the overhead over several mails (i.e. you connect to the internet, log in to the mail server with SSL, send one mail, log out and disconnect), that is still much cheaper than an SMS.

Re:SMS vs email (4, Informative)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817177)

Differences:

- SMS is available: it's built-in, e-mail is not present on every phone and relies on a third-party service provider plus settings

- SMS is faster: because there is no GPRS/TCP/IP/SMTP/IMAP/POP connection and transfer overhead

- SMS is clean: no risk of having to retrieve large attachements, hardly any spam due to sender costs

- SMS is cheaper: most plans offer a sufficient amount of free messages a month for most users, e-mail requires an additional GPRS data plan

YMMV but SMS is not as bad as some people claim.

Re:SMS vs email (2, Insightful)

CodingHero (1545185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817331)

As mentioned in the article summary above, SMS also uses a channel that isn't used for much else other than miscellaneous call and signal strength data. It is also my impression that text messages have no guaranteed timeframe for delivery, as said miscellaneous data takes precedence. So it seems to me that since SMS takes advantage of facilities that would still exist in its absence, charging $0.20 per message (or even anything at all) is akin to a ripoff. See also: http://gthing.net/the-true-price-of-sms-messages/ [gthing.net]

Re:SMS vs email (2, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817375)

SMS is clean: no risk of having to retrieve large attachements, hardly any spam due to sender costs

wouldnt the sender of spam have an unlimited texting account or use some email-to-text service?

Re:SMS vs email (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817195)

While you're at it, compare the *revenues* from SMS traffic vs. email traffic.

SMS is a nice bridge product for the telcos; they get to capture a lot of revenue from people who will pay for SMS, but would not pay for an expensive data plan. Meanwhile, they can continue to charge high prices for data plans for people what want (or need) them.

Re:SMS vs email (2, Informative)

smallfries (601545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817381)

Well.... I haven't seen a 160 character limit in Europe for years because *every* handset automatically splits/reassembles arbitrary length messages. And the cost hasn't been a factor as I haven't seen a call-plan that charges for text messages in years either...

Re:SMS vs email (1, Interesting)

warlock (14079) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817215)

Easy, SMS uses up signalling bandwidth on the cell tower, which is a relatively scarce resource, and when the signalling bandwidth is congested, no calls can take place, thus the company looses money/customers.

Re:SMS vs email (4, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817251)

Here's what's ridiculous. I have a Blackberry, and do not have an SMS plan with my carrier, thus each text costs me 25 cents to send. Receiving SMS is free and unlimited. I have an unlimited data plan for Blackberry, so I simply send emails using the carrier email SMS gateways for "free". The only downside is that the recipient cannot directly reply to my message. Here's the stupid part. The amount of bandwidth, processing, and inter-service gateways my emails have to pass through must require at least 100 times the resources of sending an actual SMS. The final kicker is that even if I keep my actual message under 160 chars, they are usually broken up into more than one SMS message because of the header attached by the SMS gateway that contains my email address, etc.

Re:SMS vs email (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817555)

I think that the kicker here is that you are too cheap to pay $5/month for unlimited text messages, so you just offload the problem on others. The reciever of these messages pays twice, becuase your "free" method breaks the messages in two frequently. Also, the reciever cannot reply, so has to fish through their contact list to reply.

If you were my friend, I'd excommunicate you.

Re:SMS vs email (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817633)

So, you are telling us that sending and recieving text messages wit you is overly complicated so that you can save $5 on a plan that you probably alread spend ~$75 for.

/Glad I don't text you.

Standards that won't go away (1)

sohp (22984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817069)

Hmm, reminds me of the joke about why the standard railway gauge is 4'8.5" -- going back to the width of ancient roman roads. There's also the (urban legend?) that legal size paper (In the US) is 8.5"x14" because that's the largest sheet that could fit into a pony express bag without folding.

Re:Standards that won't go away (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817427)

My favorite is the reason why ATM data is broken up into 48 byte cells. It seems that at the standards meeting, there was one group adamant about 64 byte cells, while another wanted 32 byte cells. After much arguing and not being able to reach agreement, they finally decided to compromise -- on 48 bytes! (Of course, like many standards that were designed to be implemented in hardware (e.g. ISDN), ATM is horribly inefficient if you try to do it in software, so the fact that the size isn't a power of 2 doesn't really matter.)

No need for more (4, Funny)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817139)

bc whn u txt u typ lik ths so ther isnt any ned fr mor thn 160 chars. I'm a teen, I know best.

Re:No need for more (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817463)

That's why I turn T9 predictive text on when I use SMS. People I send messages to get nice, clear, concise English, and people who don't have the courtesy to try to spell things properly to me get ignored.

biocompression (2, Funny)

micromuncher (171881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817171)

My 17 yr old (mostly stupid) step-daughter is already using what looks like huffman coding in her text messages... why doesn't some genius study that.

Re:biocompression (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817281)

You are so going to get into trouble having that attitude.

Re:biocompression (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817351)

wut?

Bad article (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817207)

The article states outright that the 160-character limit came before Hillebrand's "typewriter experiment", and that the experiment actually about because of an argument between Hillebrand and a coworker about whether 160 characters was sufficient for a sensible message. This meshes with what we already know about SMS, namely that it could never have been much more than 128 characters for technical reasons. Quite why the article structures its opening to suggest that Hillebrand pulled the number out of his arse after some typewriter time is a mystery.

Re:Bad article (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817323)

Pfft! I don't know what the issue is. 160 characters is more than enough to get the point across. Take for instance Hillebrand's previous research which clea

Wikipedia disagrees (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817457)

They claim it's actually 140 octets, and the length is a byproduct of the fact that an idle control channel protocol is being used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_message_service [wikipedia.org]

Now, I realize Wikipedia isn't always the most reliable source, but I'm going to go with their explanation on this...because I'm too lazy to look up the protocols and figure it out myself.

Re:Wikipedia disagrees (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817687)

I tried to gloss over details that I didn't have to hand. Guess I didn't gloss enough. ;) My point is that there was a good technical reason for why SMS is as long as it is (like you say, it piggybacked on a channel that wasn't really doing anything), and that the discussion over whether this was "enough" came after the fact.

Getting 160 chars in 128 bits. (5, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817227)

For those that were wondering how they got 160 characters into 128 bytes (6.4 bits/char), they didn't. The increased the length of the frame to 140 bytes, which is is 160 characters using a 7 bits/char. Curiosity forced me to look this up [wikipedia.org] , expecting to find some snazzy compacting algorithm for a non power-of-two alphabet.

text messages longer than160 characters (3, Interesting)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817255)

How about tokenizing [classic-games.com] commonly used words and sending that, ne byte per word ?

Re:text messages longer than160 characters (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817529)

Surely u r jk?
At appears commonly used words have already been tokenized by the users.
kthx

Re:text messages longer than160 characters (2, Insightful)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817599)

Because you only get 256 different words that way? There are a lot more commonly used words than that, and then you're left with no way to spell out the uncommonly used words, either. You could use two bytes per word... but that's basically what txtspk is anyway, only with variable compression, such that the most common words get compressed down to a single byte (often as part of a longer abbreviation).

Re:text messages longer than160 characters (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817681)

How about tokenizing commonly used words and sending that, ne byte per word ?

Won't work because there are too many commonly used words in most natural languages. You'd be better off coming up with some system for compressing common consonant/vowel combinations into a single character, but even then you'd probably not do an awful lot better on average than the 6 bits per character that SMS works with.

Re:text messages longer than160 characters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817689)

How about tokenizing commonly used words...

It's called "text speak"

Re:text messages longer than160 characters (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817691)

Because we're taking about a 128-character character set here, where are you planning on storing your tokens, and what characters are you going to remove from the character set? Is it worth it to have the word "and" take up 1 character if you lose a punctuation mark?

Obviously, it would also not be backward compatible with older phones.

Maybe the UK can tax these (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817261)

Imagine how much they could make if they taxed [slashdot.org] telephone services.

Oh wait....

Re:Maybe the UK can tax these (2, Interesting)

bazim2 (625704) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817483)

You jest but the UK used to have a mobile tax - at least for business accounts. It was introduced in 1991 by the then Conservative Chancellor of the exchequer Norman Lamont. This tax was repealed in 1999 by then Labour Chancellor (and now of course prime minister) Gordon Brown. One of his better decisions to cut taxes on an enabling technology.

Nothing new under the sun (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817275)

Initially, Hillebrand's team could fit only 128 characters into that space, but that didn't seem like nearly enough. With a little tweaking and a decision to cut down the set of possible letters, numbers and symbols that the system could represent, they squeezed out room for another 32 characters.

So basically they re-invented Radix-50 [wikipedia.org] ??? Brilliant! I wonder if they got a patent on this?

Obligatory - ought to be enough (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817289)

Obligatory - 160 characters ought to be enough for anybody!

It seems like engineers are always making assessments about what might be the possible usage of a technology, which then creates design considerations/limitations that affect decisions far into the future. If only we had a crystal ball and could see how a technology might be preferred 2 - 10 years from now!

Re:Obligatory - ought to be enough (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817573)

If there is a per-message fee for text messages but regular IP over 3G doesn't have any per-byte costs, my prediction would be that text messages wouldn't be used at all 2 to 10 years from now.

In other words (2, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817373)

Find a way to charge people a nickel to do something that we can provide them at no additional cost to us.

I love capitalism :)

Whoah! (1, Funny)

Bobb Sledd (307434) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817407)

Whoah, whoah, whoah.... Since when can we send messages using the rotary dials on our phones?!? I think that kind of thing has the potential to make it big!

160 Characters? that's a lot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817441)

In my language(Hebrew) we can use only 70 per message.

enough to fit on the screen (1)

Maarek Stele (7770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817447)

And I always thought it was about what would fit on the screen. Also, since it's only 160 bytes, the phone companies are making Tons of $$$ off these messages when trillions of bytes don't even slow the system down. (unlike the Simpson's episode this past Sunday).

Works For Me... (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817473)

...after all, I would like to still have opposable thumbs by the time I reach retirement age.

Why were CD's 650MB/72 Minutes? (3, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817481)

Because that was the amount of space required to fit Beethoven's 9th Symphony on one side of a disc. And the researcher apparently loved that Symphony and hated having to switch to different sides of a tape or record.

It's always interesting to the reasons why. Sometimes there is a purely logical reason, and other times, it's just because.

Bill Gates said it best (0, Offtopic)

still cynical (17020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817487)

Because 160 characters should be enough for anybody.

SS7 payload length (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27817663)

I thought sms was limited by the size of the SS7 payload length.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_message_service#Message_size

Then How Come...? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27817685)

Then how come Slashdot only allows 120 characters in your sig line, including html tags? Enquiring minds yada yada yada.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>