Jun 27, 2012

Why are Tweets limited to 140 characters?

I think the enforced brevity of message is one of the great things about Twitter. But why are the limited to 140 characters, instead of say, 200 or something? Was it just a random decision, or is there a logical basis for that being the limit?


It's because of the 160 character SMS limit.  140 was chosen to give you room to include a user address along with the message.  So 140 for the message + 20 for the user address = 160.  It's the Kevin Bacon effect of SMS.  As for why SMS has a 160 character limit, I have no idea.  

Apparently, it's because it's based on SMS text messages. See this page for details:

Why are tweets only 140 characters?

And here's another article with much more background about Twitter itself:


"Twitter's origins lie in a "daylong brainstorming session" held by board members of the podcasting company Odeo. Dorsey introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group.[12] The original project code name for the service was twttr, an idea that Williams later ascribed to Noah Glass,[13] inspired by Flickr and the five-character length of American SMS short codes. The developers initially considered "10958" as a short code, but later changed it to "40404" for "ease of use and memorability."[14] Work on the project started on March 21, 2006, when Dorsey published the first Twitter message at 9:50 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST): "just setting up my twttr".[15]

"...we came across the word 'twitter', and it was just perfect. The definition was 'a short burst of inconsequential information,' and 'chirps from birds'. And that's exactly what the product was." – Jack Dorsey[16]"
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