The first text message ever sent, reading “Merry Christmas,” sold for €107,000 ($121,000) on Tuesday as a “non-fungible token” at an auction house in Paris.
The text, which was sent on December 3, 1992, was put up for auction by British telecommunications company Vodafone.
Vodafone engineer Neil Papworth sent the text from his computer to a manager in the UK, who received it on his 2 kg (4 lb) “Orbitel” phone – similar to a desk phone, but wireless and with a handle.
“They were in the middle of the end-of-year events, so he sent him the message ‘Merry Christmas’,” said Maximilien Aguttes, head of development at the Aguttes Auction House.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are a type of digital asset that has exploded in popularity this year, with NFT artworks selling for millions of dollars.
These digital objects, which include images, video, music and text, have been traded since about 2017 and exist on blockchain, a register of transactions held on network computers. Each NFT has a unique digital signature.
The sale of intangibles is not legal in France, so the auction house has packaged the text message in a digital frame, containing the code and communication protocol, Aguttes said.
The buyer will receive the replica of the original communication protocol that sent the SMS and the proceeds will go to the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR.
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