World's first text message sells for £90,000

World’s first text message sells for £90,000: Festive greeting sent in 1992 fetches fortune at auction

  • World’s first text message said ‘Merry Christmas’ and was sent in December 1992
  • The SMS was sent by engineer Neil Papworth to his colleague Richard Jarvis
  • It was yesterday auctioned off for £90,000 after being sold by Vodafone
  • Anonymous buyer will receive a replica of the protocol that transmitted the SMS

The world’s first text message was yesterday auctioned off for £90,000.

Sent in December 1992 and saying ‘Merry Christmas’, the text was sold by Vodafone.

Engineer Neil Papworth sent the SMS from his computer to colleague Richard Jarvis, who received it on his Orbitel cordless telephone.

The world’s first text message was sent in December 1992 by engineer Neil Papworth from his computer to colleague Richard Jarvis and simply said ‘Merry Christmas’. 

‘They were in the middle of end-of-year events so he sent him the message “Merry Christmas”,’ said Maximilien Aguttes of the Aguttes auction house in Paris.

A year later Nokia introduced the SMS system on its handset.

The text was sold as a non-fungible token – a type of digital asset.

Each NFT is unique and can include images, video and text.

The buyer, who asked to remain anonymous, will receive a replica of the protocol that transmitted the SMS.

Proceeds will go to the United Nations Refugee Agency. 

The selling of intangible goods is not legal in France and so the auction house has packaged the text message in a digital frame, displaying the code and communication protocol, Aguttes said.

Among those in the auction hall was 18-year-old blockchain entrepreneur Luigi Caradonna, who bowed out of bidding when the price rose above £63,000.

‘I thought it would be interesting to have this piece of history to hold it as an asset until next year and to sell it next Christmas,’ he told AFP. 

What is a non-fungible token (NFT)?

What is a NFT?

A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a unique digital token encrypted with an artist’s signature and which verifies its ownership and authenticity and is permanently attached to the piece.

What do they look like?

Most NFTs include some kind digital artwork, such as photos, videos, GIFs, and music. Theoretically, anything digital could be turned into a NFT.

Where do you buy them?

At the moment, NFTs are most commonly sold in so-called ‘drops’, timed online sales by blockchain-backed marketplaces like Nifty Gateway, Opensea and Rarible.

Why would I want to own one?

There’s an array of reasons why someone may want to buy a NFT. For some, the reason may be emotional value, because NFTs are seen as collectors items. For others, they are seen as an investment opportunity similar to cryptocurrencies, because the value could increase.

When were NFTs created?

Writer and podcaster Andrew Steinwold traced the origins of NFTs back to 2012, with the creation of the Colored Coins cryptocurrency. But NFTs didn’t move into the mainstream until five years later, when the blockchain game CryptoKitties began selling virtual cats in 2017.


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