We are saddened to hear about the death of Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen, better known as ‘the father of SMS’.
The Pioneer in mobile services was 63-years-old and the official cause of his death has not been confirmed as of yet.
According to several interviews, Matti developed the idea of sending messages via mobile networks while having pizza in 1984.
During the eraly 80’s cellphones could only received calls but Matti made it possible for texts when he told friends during a pizza break while on a conference in Copenhagen Denmark –to create a cellular network that allowed the sending of short messages between mobiles.
The Finnish creator pitched the concept of text messaging over cellular networks in 1984 and helped get the ball rolling on the technology in its earliest days. He was quick to downplay his involvement and saw SMS as a “joint effort” between many people (Friedham Hillebrand developed the 160-character format in 1985, for example), but much of the initial credit belongs to him.
Makkonen never patented his idea, which would be first used years later. More precisely on December 3, 1992, when British engineer Neil Papworth say “Merry Christmas” to a colleague.
As for his private and personal life, not much is known; according to his Facebook he left a job at Anvia Oyj, Seinäjoki last April –where he was an advisor after leaving his job as CEO.
His summary on LinkedIn reads
I am one of the Finnish pioneers in mobile communications. I have worked in the operating company Telecom Finland/Sonera for 26 years, in Nokia for 2,5 years and in Finnet, another operator, for 3 years.
I started my carreer in 1976 in the radio department of Finnish PTT, later Sonera. I participated in international development projects NMT – the Nordic Mobile Mobile Telephone – and GSM. GSM was first a Nordic idea, then a European joint effort and finally a global commercial success.
The best and most beautiful result of my work so far is the mobile business development. I was in the key position to manage the transformation of the Finnish PTT into the best mobile operator of the world – as found in an independent global study in late 90’ies.
The company was renamed to Sonera and successfully IPO’ed in 1998. Soon after that, however, it adapted the 3G/Internet hype strategy rather than continued reasonable business development and I left the company. What is now left from Sonera is owned by Telia-Sonera.
In Nokia I headed Professional Services, a global business unit responsible on services to the Nokia Networks’ operator customers. In Finnet I headed Finnet Group Ltd., consisting of the joint business efforts of the local telcos, like Finland’s fastest growing mobile operator – dna.
After having worked as an independent consultant and board member in various Finnish companies for some five years, I returned back to the “ordinary” work in August 2010 and started my mission as CEO of Anvia Plc. Anvia is basically the local Telco in Kokkola-Seinäjoki-Vaasa area in Western Finland, that has expanded into IT services, Security solutions and TV broadcasting solutions.
I was retired from my CEO job in december 2013 and now I continue as director and advisor of Anvia.
Specialties: I understand the operator business and some related businesses in depth.
You can see a detailed list of his working profile here. He attended the University of Oulu from 1971 – 1976 and enjoyed a successful career in Telecommunications holding positions as Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, Chairman, CEO, Member of the Board, Chairman of the Board, Owner and Partner at renowned companies in his native Finland.
It appears he was living alone during his last days alive. No records of a wife and children were found. Makkonen didn’t publicly displayed his earnings but according to matemedia, the mobile messaging market in 2011 was worth a whopping US$202 billion, so Makkonen must have been very wealthy.