TECHNOLOGY

VODAFONE SOLD WORLD'S FIRST SMS AS AN NFT

The text simply says "Merry Christmas".

03.01.2022
BY WILHEMINA BOWEN
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Vodafone, a global telecommunications firm based in the UK, has sold the world's first text message as a non-fungible token for around $150,000 (Rp 2,139,240,000).

More than 29 years ago, Vodafone programmer Neil Papworth sent the message to then-director Richard Jarvis. Papworth, a Vodafone developer and test engineer, constructed an SMS in which he wrote out the 14-character SMS that said "Merry Christmas" from his home in Newbury, Berkshire.

On his Orbitel 901 phone, Jarvis successfully received the message. In 1993, Nokia launched an SMS function with a unique "beep" to indicate an incoming message.

Initially, SMS messages were limited to 160 characters. This message paved the way for current communications. According to the Daily Mail, Papworth said in 2017: "In 1992, I had no idea just how popular texting would become, and that this would give rise to emojis and messaging apps used by millions."

Text messages could ultimately be transmitted on numerous networks in 1999, seven years after Neil's initial SMS message, driving them to greater prominence than ever before.

A historic occasion for a worthy cause
After the piece of telecoms history, now packaged as an NFT, was auctioned off earlier this week on 21 December 2021 by Aguttes, the first independent auction house in France, Vodafone said it would donate the whole auction earnings to the United Nations Refugee Agency to assist people who have been forcefully displaced from their homes and nations in the spirit of the season.

The announcement was made via the Vodafone Group's official Twitter account. "Our first ever #NFT has now sold. The Non-Fungible Token of the world's first SMS was auctioned off for 107k euros. We will be donating the proceedings through @VodafoneFdn to @refugees," the tweet read.

The special NFT was coined in an edition of one, and the firm has said that it would not produce another NFT from the world's first SMS in the future. The buyer of the NFT, whose name was not released but who is a Canadian working in the IT sector, is set to receive a certificate from Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read, certifying the NFT's authenticity and originality.

A precise replica of the original communication protocol generated by Vodafone, which records the sending/receiving of the world's first SMS, as well as the knockoff of the original communication protocol as TXT files (coded/uncoded versions) and as PDF files (coded/uncoded versions), will also be given to the buyer by the company.

SMS in the past, NFT in the future
A non-fungible token is an entirely unique and non-transferable unit of data maintained on a digital ledger that leverages blockchain technology to provide proof of ownership. NFTs are collectible digital assets with monetary worth, similar to how tangible art has monetary value.

NFTs are similar to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. An NFT, on the other hand, is fully unique and cannot be traded like-for-like, which is where the term "non-fungible" comes into play. The file contains additional information that takes it above the world of pure cash and into the area of, well, anything at all.

Any readily copied digital material, such as photography, art, music, films, tweets, and even memes, can be stored as an NFT to identify the original copy. NFTs may be made from basically any unique item that can be stored digitally and has value. They function similarly to any other collector's object, such as a painting or a vintage action figure, except instead of purchasing a tangible thing, you pay for a file and confirmation that you hold the original copy.

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