With all the news about Twitter, and the seemingly obligatory mention of its 140-character limit, the Los Angeles Times published an article on “Why text messages are limited to 160 characters”. Here is an excerpt:
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Alone in a room in his home in Bonn, Germany, Friedhelm 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 — and set the standard for one of today’s most popular forms of digital communication: text messaging . . .
To avoid the need for splitting cellular text messages into multiple parts, the creators of Twitter capped the length of a tweet at 140 characters, keeping the extra 20 for the user’s unique address.
We know that tweets are limited to 140 characters and text messages are limited to 160 characters, but what is the ideal length for a voice message, Telephone Broadcast, a virtual receptionist greeting, or an interactive voice response menu?
In our opinion, as short as possible.