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

  • The first ever text message to say “Merry Christmas” was sent December 1992.
  • Neil Papworth, an engineer, sent the SMS to Richard Jarvis.
  • It was yesterday auctioned off for £90,000 after being sold by Vodafone
  • A replica of the SMS Protocol will be given to an anonymous buyer

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.

Neil Papworth, Engineer sent an SMS to Richard Jarvis from his computer. Richard Jarvis received the message 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'.

In December 1992, Neil Papworth sent the first ever text message from his computer to Richard Jarvis. He simply wrote “Merry Christmas” and it was received by over a million people. 

‘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.

Nokia launched the SMS system one year later on their handsets.

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

Each NFT can be unique, and include text, images and/or video.

On December 3, 1992, 22-year-old British programmer Neil Papworth (pictured) sent the first ever Short Message Service (SMS) from a computer to Vodafone colleague Richard Jarvis

Neil Papworth (pictured), a 22 year-old British programmer, sent Richard Jarvis the first SMS from a computer on December 3, 1992.

A replica of the SMS protocol will be sent to the buyer who requested anonymity.

The proceeds will be donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency. 

France does not allow the sale of intangible goods. Aguttes stated that the auction house packaged the message text in a digital frame and displayed the code and protocol.

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’s a Non-Funcible Token (NFT), and how can it be used?

What exactly is a NFT and how does it work?

A Non-FungibleToken (NFT), is a digital token unique with artist signature that verifies the owner and authenticity of the piece.

How do they look?

The majority of NFTs have some digital artwork such as music, photos, videos, GIFs and videos. In theory, any type of digital artwork could be converted into an NFT.

They can be bought anywhere.

NFTs can be purchased in so-called “drops”, which are timed online sales through blockchain-backed platforms like Opensea, Nifty Gateway and Rarible.

Why would anyone want one?

A variety of reasons may lead someone to purchase a NFT. Because NFTs can be considered collectors’ items, some may feel they have an emotional or cultural value. They are also seen by others as an investment opportunity like cryptocurrencies because their value can increase.

What year were NFTs first created?

Andrew Steinwold, a podcaster and writer, traced NFTs’ origins to 2012 with the creation the Colored Coins crypto. Five years after the creation of the Colored Coins cryptocurrency, NFTs were not mainstreamed. In 2017, CryptoKitties launched virtual cats and the blockchain-game CryptoKitties made them more accessible.