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Finnish SMS pioneer Matti Makkonen dies

Press Trust of India  |  London 

Matti Makkonen, known as the father of SMS after developing the idea of sending messages via mobile networks, has died.

Makkonen, a Finnish national, passed away on Friday at the age of 63 following serious illness, Finnish language daily Ilkka reported.

Despite being known as the father of SMS, Makkonen was often quick to point out that he did not invent the technology single-handedly.

In 2012, he told BBC -- in an SMS interview -- that he believed texting in some form would be around "forever".

Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the first text message, Makkonen said that he considered the development of SMS a joint effort and that it was who helped to popularise the service.

"The real launch of the service, as I see it, was when introduced the first phone that enabled easy writing of messages (2010 in 1994)," he had said.

Makkonen said he did not use "txt spk" himself, though he pointed out that texting could be thought of as having had an impact on the development of language.

Jarmo Matilainen, managing director of Finnish telecoms group Finnet Association, had been working with Makkonen, himself a former managing director of Finnet Ltd, in recent years.

He described Makkonen as a "grand old man of the mobile industry".

"It's very sad. He was just going to retire and he should have had many years ahead," said Matilainen, who added that Makkonen's fascination with communications technology had been irrepressible.

"We liked to talk about SMS and that kind of thing, 3G and so on. He liked to talk about this all time," he was quoted as saying.

Although the use of SMS in the UK has begun to fall, it remains popular worldwide with trillions of texts sent every day.

First Published: Tue, June 30 2015. 18:07 IST