The World’s First Ever Text Message is Going Up For Auction and it’s Christmas Themed

Saturday 18th December 2021 - Cara Bentham


The World’s First Ever Text Message is Going Up For Auction and it’s Christmas Themed

We take a look at this Festive First!

The world’s first ever text message is making history for the second time. Expected to fetch a massive £170,000 when it goes up for auction, the short, 15-letter text message reads ‘Merry Christmas’. It made history for the first time thirty years ago, in 1992, when it was sent to the director of Vodafone.

The first ever text message was sent in Newbury, Berkshire, to Richard Jarvis on his Orbitel901 handset from engineer Neil Papworth, who sent it from a computer. At aged just 22, Neil Papworth had been helping to develop Vodafone’s SMS (short message service).

Vodafone is now auctioning a virtual replica of the first text message and its available to buy in cryptocurrency in a world first auction. All proceeds from the online sale will go the UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency) to support the 82.4 million people globally who have had to flee their homes due to persecution or conflict.

The winning bidder will own the exclusive rights to the message and will receive a digital file that will contain information on the recipient and the sender, including their phone number and the message itself.

CEO at Vodafone, Hannes Ametsreiter, stated: "We're bringing together the pioneering spirit of two centuries by immortalising the world's first SMS and auctioning it off for a good cause. We believed technology can change the world when it serves to connect people”.

When it was successfully sent almost three decades ago, the world’s first text message marked a pivotal moment in mobile technology history. Seven years after the first text was sent, in 1999, it became possible to send text messages over multiple networks. This accelerated both the use and popularity of SMS messaging.

The world’s first ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting sent via SMS helped to shape the digitally connected world we live in today. In 2021, text messages are still a hugely popular method of communication. Christmas greetings are sent all over the world via text messaging as well as in the form of audio messages, videos, emojis and MMS using mobile devices.

The auction of the text message is the first of it’s kind as no text message has ever gone under the hammer before. The sale is being organised by Aquttes Auction House in France and the lot is being sold as a ‘Non Fungible Token’, which means that the owner will hold it in a digital wallet, referred to as a block chain.

Expected to sell for the equivalent of £170,000, the text message will be available to buy using Ether cryptocurrency. The sale will take place on the 21st of December in Paris and is expected to attract technology enthusiasts from all over the world.

Maximilian Aguttes, founder of the auction house where the text message will be sold, has stated that: “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”.