Nearly 3 decades after it was first sent, the world’s first-ever SMS – sent via Vodafone’s British network, is now being auctioned as a Non-Fungible Token or NFT.

What does it say? In the spirit of the holiday season – a short, rather adorable ‘Merry Christmas’ wish.

Who Sent The World’s First SMS?

Vodafone First SMS

The 15-character-long message was sent by Neil Papworth, currently a well-experienced software architect for Oracle. Back in the nineties, he was a 22-year old programmer who sent the message from a networked computer to Richard Jarvis, the ex-Director of Vodafone.

Jarvis received the pioneering message on December 3rd, 1992 – on a chunky old Orbitel 901 handset.

While texts today are required for just about everything from bank transactions to government authentication, they used to be a fairly exclusive service.

Papworth himself remembers feeling skeptical about the technology, not understanding just how profound the moment was as it happened.

Neil Papworth
Neil Papworth texts Richard Jarvis again – just on a much more modern handset.

“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,” said Papworth in 2017. “I only recently told my children that I sent that first text. Looking back with hindsight, it’s clearer to see that the Christmas message I sent was a pivotal moment in mobile history,” he added.

Just a year later, Nokia introduced the SMS feature on many of its handsets – and the world was never the same since.

Where Is It Being Sold?

Aguttes Auction House

With NFTs being something of a hot topic this year, the general discussion surrounding their value (or lack thereof) is a key tech story of 2021. While NFTs in the form of art are exceedingly common – one in the form of rights over a message, its communication protocol and the sender-receiver data is quite unique.

The tech world in particular is very interested in important firsts, such as when NFTs of Steve Jobs’ only job application or the ‘first-ever’ tweet sold for millions.

Meanwhile, the Aguttes Auction House will be hosting the auction – as a reputed, independent Paris-based company, it has served as a trusted place to carry out high-value auctions ever since Claude Aguttes established it in 1974.

Held on 21st December 2021, the auction’s whole proceeds will be donated to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNRA), which has assisted refugees from Palestine, Myanmar, and several other countries facing displacement and conflict.

According to Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany, “We’re bringing together the pioneering spirit of two centuries by immortalizing the world’s first SMS and auctioning it off for a good cause.

“Today greetings for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Eid are sent by billions of people around the world in the form of texts, videos, audio messages and emojis. Without the very first ‘Merry Christmas‘ sent to a cell phone, our world would be less connected today,” added Ametsreiter.

(Image Sources: Vodafone, Aguttes)