Short Codes & SMS Messaging: A Brief History

Did you know that when you port your phone number to Tossable Digits, you can still receive messages from most US Short Codes?

Well, you can! But first, a brief history of SMS and Short Codes.

Addicted to Messaging

People laughing at a bad joke from some random Short Codes.

Even coming from Short Codes, that joke isn’t THAT funny.

I cannot imagine how I’d function these days without messaging. Whether it is WhatsApp or iMessage or Slack or straight up SMS, we send billions of messages every day. The first SMS message was sent on December 3, 1992, and still 3 years later, just 0.4 messages per customer were sent on average per month. Messaging really took off in the early 2000s, and my first experience with Short Codes was in 2004.

The First SMS

Short Codes started off as a way for companies to communicate with customers via SMS with a short and hopefully, easy to remember, 5 or 6 digit number. Wireless Carriers in the US started to offer Premium SMS, where, if you gave consent, a company could add a charge on your wireless bill, no credit card needed! This was used in 2004 and 2005 for people to pay $10/month for “Joke of the Day” or Ringtones you could download.

Today there are still some Premium SMS companies that will add a charge to your wireless bill, of which they get about 70% of the charge. But many of the Short Code SMS uses are now for companies to communicate with their customers.

Why SMS Short Codes Matter

Two-Factor Authentication Short Code SMS Text Message Example

Many businesses such as Apple and Google are using Short Code SMS to deliver alerts and Two-Factor Authentication messages, those 6 digit codes that allow you to log into your account from a new computer or phone. Banks are using Short Codes as well to deliver balance information and allow customers to ask about their balance via SMS.

When you move outside of the US, normally you would lose access to SMS, especially Short Code messages. But by using Tossable Digits, you can continue to receive these messages while traveling the world! Safely log into your bank or Google accounts protected with Two-Factor Authentication, keep getting your balance updates, or just chat with a friendly corporate bot.

Port your Number Today

We specialize in providing Virtual Phone Numbers with a ton of included features. A few Short Code SMS messages are included with your plan each month, and you can get more for a small fee per message. Add in our free and unlimited Voicemail, person-to-person SMS and call forwarding to anywhere in the world and you’ve moved your communication into the 21st Century.

Try Tossable Digits today!

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