The ten most important text messages in history

Below are some of the most famous text messages ever sent - including some that ended careers and offered insights into tragedies such as 9/11 and the Utoya massacre.

In the past two decades, texts have ended political careers, saved lives, and offered on-the-spot views of unfolding tragedies (Image: Fotolia)

Today is the 20th anniversary of the text message, and in the last two decades it has gone from a novelty to being a bedrock of modern communication - and in the process, the messages have brought down politicians, saved lives and even been sent to other planets.

Below are some of the most famous text messages ever sent - including some that ended careers and offered insights into tragedies such as 9/11 and the Utoya massacre.

1. "Merry Christmas"
The first text message was sent on December 3 1992. Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old British engineer, used his computer to send the message "Merry Christmas" to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone in an early test of the technology.

2.  “Tell the police to hurry. People are dying here!”
Julie Bremnes, 16, sent this text message to her mother as Anders Breivik began his massacre on Utoya Island - her conversation, sustained by SMS because she didn't dare to raise her voice, became one of the defining records of the massacre. Bremnes survived.

[Related: Text messaging now most popular form of communication]

3. "'Brilliant speech. I cried twice. Will love 'working together'"
Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brook sent this message to David Cameron. When it was revealed during the Leveson inquiry, it was seized on as evidence of a relationship some saw as unhealthily close.

4. "Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee."

Barack Obama's decision to announce his choice of vice president via a mass text message marked a new era of 'personal' communication in politics. Obama's announcement arrived late for many of his supporters, though, as the sheer volume overwhelmed networks in the U.S.

5. "You almost just ruined my whole life."

The last message sent by Tiger Woods to porn star Joslyn James was the end of a string of 'sexting' messages that came out as Woods's overactive social life became public knowledge.

6. "I’m gonna be here always xx"
The last message sent by Amy Winehouse arrived on her friend Kristian Marr's phone at 3.10am. By the time Marr read it, Winehouse was dead.

7. "It's a DELIBERATE attack - a second plane just flew into the second tower"
This message, from an unknown witness, came to light as Wikileaks disclosed a full record of texts sent during the 9/11 attacks - a second-by-second account of the worst terrorist atrocity on U.S. soil. The controversial site has not disclosed how it came by the messages.

8. "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality, they seldom attack a human."
This text is used by the Guinness Book of Records as the challenge for speed-texters. An employee of the company Swype recently entered the text in 35.54 seconds, using Swype's predictive text app.

9. "Hello from Earth"
Text messages from all around the world were sent into space from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia, a 70m antenna capable of sending radio signals into deep space. The greeting was sent ot Gliese 581d - a planet outside our solar system thought to be able to support life.

10. "Great and congrats on Brussels. Just Ofcom to go"
A text sent by MP Jeremy Hunt to News Corp executive James Murdoch showed off what opponents saw as an unhealthily close relationship. The text was sent before Hunt was given responsibility for overseeing the News Corporation takeover bid for BSkyB on behalf of the government. The bid was later withdrawn.