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Vodafone auctions the very first sms text ever sent to benefit the UN Refugee Agency


Vodafone has auctioned the world’s first SMS.

It was transmitted through the Vodafone network on December 3, 1992 and received by Vodafone employee Richard Jarvis at a Christmas party.

A 15 letter message, “Merry Christmas”.

The SMS was auctioned as a Non-Fungible Token (“NFT”) in a unique sale organized by Aguttes Auction House in France.

The buyer paid with Ether and gains exclusive ownership of a detailed and unique replica of the original communication protocol that transmitted the world’s first SMS.

The auction took place on December 21st 2021.

Vodafone will be donating the proceeds from the sale to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support forcibly displaced people. It is estimated tp sell for Euro €100,000 to €200,000.

Vodafone Germany CEO Hannes Ametsreiter expounded on the auction.

“The mother of all messaging services comes under the hammer. With this auction, we are bringing together the pioneering spirit of two centuries.”

“We immortalize the world’s first SMS on the blockchain as we auction off its good news as an NFT for a good cause. Because we believe that pioneers and technology can change the world. When they serve people and connect 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.

Greetings for Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid and other holidays are sent by billions of people around the world in the form of texts, videos, audio messages and emojis.

Without the first sms sent to a cell phone, our world would be less connected.

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”.

This 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 NFT owner holds it in his blockchain wallet which is equal to a digital wallet.

An 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 has now immortalized 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 was conducted in Paris by Aguttes, the first independent auction house in France. Largely active in the international art and luxury market, they expected to gather bidders from all around the world for this sale.

Maximilien Aguttes said, “The first printed book, the first phone call, the first email, all these inventions have changed our lives and communication in the world.”

“This first text message received in 1992 is a historic testament to human and technological progress. It transmitted a message of joy, ‘Merry Christmas’.”

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.

Christian Schaake, is the Head of UNHCR’s Private Sector Partnerships Service.

“Technology has always had the power to innovate and change the world. This is a combination of groundbreaking tech and movement for social good.”

“UNHCR can continue helping refugees and people who’ve been forced from home.”

“It gives them an opportunity to transform their lives and build better futures for themselves, their loved ones and communities they’re living in,” said Schaake.