When Did NFTs Start: A Timeline of NFT Evolution

Sep 2, 2022
4 min read

In recent years, NFTs have carved out a significant niche for themselves in the online world, proving to be particularly valuable to the accelerated development of the metaverse as a way for users to customize their experience and enjoy a unique virtual journey.

NFTs are not recent phenomena, however. Despite just breaking out with new technological advancements, NFTs and the concepts behind them have been around for several years.

Emperia When Did NFTs Start: A Timeline of NFT Evolution
Photo source: Beeple’s collage, Everydays: The First 5000 Days, sold at Christie’s.

When Was the First NFT Created?

The earliest concept for an NFT was first introduced to the online community in 2012. They were known as Colored Coins and were intended for use on Bitcoin as a precursor to the Ethereum blockchain that had not yet been created.

Emperia When Did NFTs Start: A Timeline of NFT Evolution

Eventually, NFTs began to resemble the form we are most familiar with in the present day. 2014 saw the introduction of an NFT of a video clip designed by Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash and minted on Namecoin.

Dash and McCoy’s NFT, Quantum, represented an advancement in NFT technology, presenting a more complex idea than the original Colored Coins project put forward by Meni Rosenfeld.

The concept described in Rosenfeld’s paper talked about Colored Coins being a digital method of managing real-world assets. This is, of course, the foundation of NFTs, but their evolution into digital assets that people can take personal ownership of has helped to make them more unique and valuable to the online community.

The Evolution of NFTs

NFT technology made a significant breakthrough in 2015 with the creation of Etheria, which became the first NFT project connected with the Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum then launched several other projects and collections that shaped NFTs and crypto art into what they’ve become today. These projects include 2017’s Curio Cards, the first Ethereum art project, and CrytpoPunks, a collection that used the classic 8-bit art style that remains popular in NFTs today.

NFTs later expanded into more areas of entertainment. Decentraland was the first metaverse to explore the unification of gaming and NFTs properly, creating a virtual world that put the user first when building their own digital community and showcasing their creativity.

Emperia When Did NFTs Start: A Timeline of NFT Evolution
Photo source: Big Time Studios game

Afterward, NFT gaming grew in popularity with more NFT wallets like Enjin being released, giving developers and users more options and slowly increasing the popularity and relevance of NFTs.

NFTs in the Present Day

NFTs have become a mainstream phenomenon, with several wallets and metaverse platforms catering to crypto art and other NFT digital assets.

After several years of developments, 2021 saw NFTs have a breakthrough in the online community, with luxury brands and high-profile celebrities all investing in making their own NFTs and broadly diversifying the market.

Emperia When Did NFTs Start: A Timeline of NFT Evolution

NFTs are sold at exorbitant prices, allowing users to start their collections with many NFT marketplaces offering the opportunity for anyone to be able to mint their own NFT and join the creative space.

2021 saw the rise of several now-famous collections of digital art, including the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Users can use these collections to personalise their experience in the metaverse, using NFTs as avatars to represent themselves and create a digital sense of individualism.

As more and more metaverses are implemented, such as Facebook’s rebranding as Meta, the need for NFTs climbs higher and higher in multiple forms of entertainment, including fashion, art, and gaming.

NFTs in the Future

The NFT experience available to customers is continuing to develop and improve. 2022 marks the release of Oxalus, the first ever NFT gaming wallet that optimises the gaming experience for its users while also providing the typical NFT wallet requirements of being able to trade and store your NFTs.

Many hope that NFTs will become environmentally sustainable in the future, helping the metaverse and the various blockchains like Ethereum to become more eco-friendly, thus enhancing the user experience.

As a whole, NFTs will continue to improve the opportunities available to digital creators, encouraging creative freedom and expression, whether designing virtual clothes for avatars or curating sound or video clips.

NFTs have come a long way since they were conceived in 2012. They have gathered more use and purpose as technology has developed and has become a valuable way of building connections in virtual communities.

Their roots still lie in trade, but with the ever-increasing number of metaverses, blockchains, and NFT projects, the value of NFTs can only grow as users and developers experiment with the limits of what can be created.

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