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World's First Text Message Set To Be Auctioned Off As NFT

Abbi Murray

| Last updated 

World's First Text Message Set To Be Auctioned Off As NFT

The world’s first ever text message is set to be auctioned off as an NFT - and it's expected to sell for a huge sum.

An NFT, short for non-fungible token, is defined as 'a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible'.

The text message, which simply reads ‘Merry Christmas’, was sent from an Orbitel 901 handset back in December 1992. 

Vodafone’s director at the time, Richard Jarvis, received the 15-character message from engineer Neil Papworth, who was only 22 at the time and had been working on the company’s short message service (SMS). 

Vodafone are now selling a virtual replica of the text as an exclusive NFT, which will be available to buy in Ether cryptocurrency. 

Richard Jarvis. Credit: Vodafone Group
Richard Jarvis. Credit: Vodafone Group

It's expected to sell for around £170,000 ($225,000).

And it’s all for a good cause, as the auction price of the text will be donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency. 

Hannes Ametsreiter, a CEO at Vodafone, said: "We're bringing together the pioneering spirit of two centuries by immortalising the world's first SMS and auctioning it off for a good cause. 

"We believed technology can change the world when it serves to connect people.” 

Ametrsreiter continued: "The transmission of this message nearly three decades ago was a decisive moment in the history of mobile technology. 

"In 1999, seven years after the first SMS was sent via Vodafone, it was finally possible to send text messages over multiple networks, accelerating their use and popularity. 

"Today greetings for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Eid are sent by billions of people around the world in the form of texts, videos, audio messages and emojis. 

The buyer will pay for the NFT with Ether cryptocurrency. Credit: Alamy
The buyer will pay for the NFT with Ether cryptocurrency. Credit: Alamy

"Without the very first 'Merry Christmas' sent to a cell phone, our world would be less connected today." 

It feels only appropriate, then, to mark the anniversary of such a momentous occasion with a grand gesture like this where the old and new digital worlds collide. 

Whoever wins the auction will receive the text as a digital file - which will also contain information on the sender and the recipient, such as their phone number.

The sale is set to take place in Paris on 21 December and is being organised by Aguttes Auction House. 

Featured Image Credit: Vodafone Group

Topics: Cryptocurrency, Technology, Phones

Abbi Murray
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