Art/Design, Tech

World’s first text message sold as NFT for $150,000 USD

Wish we’d thought of it first.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Feb 4, 2022

At an Aguttes charity auction in Paris, Vodafone sold the first text message as a NFT. The “Merry Christmas” SMS was a communication protocol delivered by former director Richard Jarvis (who received the message on his Orbitel 901 smartphone) and programmer Neil Papworth 29 years ago in December. At the event, the NFT sold for €132,680 EUR (about $150,000 USD) in Ethereum, with earnings going to the UN Refugee Agency in the assistance of persons who have been forcibly evicted.


The auction’s anonymous winner will receive a certificate of authenticity, a copy of the source code, and an animation depicting a phone receiving the aforementioned text. The NFT is a duplicate of the original SMS communication technology. The mystery buyer will also receive a digital frame with a 3D animation of the message being received, as well as payment in the cryptocurrency Ethereum.


According to Aguttes’ website, Papworth and his colleagues were working on a method of communication that would allow their client, Vodafone, to allow users to send messages to each other’s phones. They polished the code over time, and text transmission over Vodafone’s network became a reality.


Texts couldn’t be sent from cellphones at first since they lacked keyboards. However, because of the launch of the Nokia 210 in 1994, these were possible to be sent from phones. Text messages became popular five years later when they could be delivered across numerous telecommunications networks.


According to the press release, texting has begun to supplant phone calls as a way of communication. SMS — which stands for “Short Message Service” — has now been adopted by a variety of digital platforms. With the development of internet acronyms and emoticons, individuals’ choice of how to express themselves has evolved throughout time.


NFTs are shaking up the art world in the same way that the world’s first SMS changed the way people communicated. As we’ve previously mentioned, non-fungible tokens are a type of cryptocurrency that transforms digital artwork into one-of-a-kind, verifiable items that can be sold on the blockchain.


Each NFT is unique, which means that no two tokens are alike. Virtual art has become mainstream after the first NFT artwork was sold for $69,346,250 at a Christie’s online auction in March 2021.


“This first text message received in 1992 is a historic testament to human and technological progress. It transmitted a message of joy, ‘Merry Christmas’,” said Aguttes.


In related news, auction house Sotheby’s has entered the Metaverse and Instagram will start exploring NFTs this year.


Photo via Aguttes