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NFT of the first text message for sale in charity auction

This holiday season, many of us will be texting our Christmas greetings to loved ones, a tradition that goes back to the very first text message.

Simply stating, “Merry Christmas,” the first SMS message was sent almost 30 years ago.

Now, that moment of digital history is up for auction Tuesday to raise money for charity.

The auction house Aguttes, on the outskirts of Paris, is open to bidders around the globe.

Estimated to fetch between $150,000 and $300,000, that text message has been transformed into a digital token -- an NFT, which stands for non-fungible token.

The message was sent by Neil Papworth, a British computer programmer in Newbury, Berkshire, who was working on developing a short message service for the mobile giant Vodafone.

He typed it out on a computer on Dec. 3, 1992, and sent it to Richard Jarvis, a director at Vodafone, who received it on his Orbitel 901 handset, marking a pivotal moment in mobile history.

In 2017, Papworth, who lives in Canada, said he had no idea how popular texting would become.

That text has now been recreated as a NFT, which is essentially a digital receipt proving ownership of unique assets, such as works of art. The NFT version of the text message is an animation of what appears to be an acrylic display, featuring a replica of the original communication protocol on one side and a visual of the cell phone that received it on the other.

It comes with an assurance that Vodafone will not be minting any subsequent NFTs of the first text message ever sent, confirming the uniqueness of the NFT.

This isn’t the first time that this type of digital collecting has stepped into digital history. Recently, an NFT of the first edit of Wikipedia sold at auction for $750,000.

“The first printed book, the first phone call, the first email -- all these inventions have changed our lives and communication in the world,” Maximilian Aguttes, founder of the auction house selling the text message, said. “This first text message received in 1992 is a historic testament to human and technological progress -- we are delighted to be able to support the sale of this landmark piece of history for this cause.”

Vodafone plans to donate all of the proceeds from the auction to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in support of the millions who’ve been forced to flee their homes due to persecution or conflict. Top Stories


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