Vodafone auctions the very first SMS as NFT

Aurel Constantin 15/12/2021 | 15:24

Vodafone is auctioning off the world’s first SMS. It was transmitted through the Vodafone network, 29 years ago, on December 3, 1992 and received by Vodafone employee Richard Jarvis at a Christmas party. It’s 15 letter message: “Merry Christmas”. The SMS is auctioned as a Non-Fungible Token (“NFT”) in a unique sale organized by Aguttes Auction House in France.


The buyer, who will be able to pay with Ether cryptocurrency, gains exclusive ownership of a detailed and unique replica of the original communication protocol that transmitted the world’s first SMS. The online auction will take place on December 21, 2021. Vodafone will be donating the proceeds from the sale to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support forcibly displaced people.

The transmission of the short text message nearly three decades ago, was a decisive moment in the history of mobile communications 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 and many other holidays are sent by billions of people around the world in the form of texts, videos, audio messages and emojis. Without the very first “Merry Christmas” sent to a cell phone, our world would be less connected today.

From SMS past to NFT future

Much like SMS in the 1990s and early 2000s, blockchain technology has seen ever-increasing adoption – and our world has entered a new era shaped by digital technologies. The Internet and its applications are constantly evolving at an increasing pace. In the last 12 months, for example, “non-fungible tokens” generated and stored on blockchains have finally experienced their breakthrough. These tokens serve as unique and forgery-proof certificates of ownership that digitally prove ownership over a specific asset. Use cases range from ownership of digital artwork and collectibles to virtual items for online games and web domains, among others.

“Non-fungible” stands for “non-exchangeable”, which means that NFTs can be used to prove ownership of an asset and the associated rights for voting, for example, in an unalterable and unambiguous manner. The owner of an NFT holds it in his own blockchain wallet – which is the equivalent of a digital wallet.

A historic moment for a good cause

The rise of blockchain technology and NFTs is similar to what Vodafone achieved by transmitting the very first text message. Vodafone will now immortalize its own historic moment on the blockchain by auctioning it off as an NFT.

In the process, the “First SMS” is being sold as a one-of-a-kind item. The exclusive one-of-a-kind NFT (1/1 Edition) guarantees ownership of a unique, detailed replica of the original communication protocol of the first text message ever transmitted. The auction will be conducted in Paris on the 21st of December 2021 by Aguttes, the first independent auction house in France. Largely active in the international art and luxury market, they expect to gather bidders from all around the world for this sale.

To spread joy to those in need this holiday season Vodafone will donate all proceeds from the auction to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support the 82.4 million people who have been forced to flee their homes due conflict and persecution.

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Aurel Constantin | 12/04/2024 | 17:28
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