Merry Christmas for Vodafone text message auction
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:

Vodafone has raised close to £100,000 for charity by auctioning a non-fungible token (NFT) of the world’s first ever SMS text message, which simply reads ‘Merry Christmas’.

Having secured a winning bid of £90,800 in Ether cryptocurrency at an auction in Paris for the NFT - a unique digital asset that is stored and traded on blockchain - the mobile network provider said the funds would be donated to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The NFT guarantees sole ownership of a unique, detailed replica of the original communication protocol of the first text message which was on the Vodafone network on 3rd December 1992. The message was sent by Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old British engineer who used his computer to send “Merry Christmas” to an Orbitel 901 mobile phone. The technology was built into the 2G standard as a universal service, allowing anyone with a compatible handset to send a 160-character message to anyone else.

The founder of the hosting auction house, Maximilian 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 – we are delighted to be able to support the sale of this landmark piece of history for this cause.”

The auction allowed Vodafone to “bring together a major technology innovation from the past with cutting-edge technology of today” according to chief executive Ahmed Essam. He added the auction formed part of Vodafone’s festive efforts to “help people in desperate need of support”, which also incorporates the company’s #ReBoxingDay campaign which has been created to encourage the UK to donate its old tech and return Boxing Day to its purpose as a time of giving.

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