The resurgence of NFTs began in March of 2021, when Beeple sold a work of art for $69 million at the prestigious Christie’s auction house. The transaction made him the third highest-paid artist of all time, and it caused shockwaves through both the digital and physical worlds.
Some compare what happened next to the Renaissance in art. The difference this time is that the art is digital. However the beginnings of the NFTs date back to long before, and many people aren’t just unaware of it, but also believe NFTs are just elaborate crypto scams. So let’s dispel those erroneous beliefs.
Overview of NFT Timeline
NFTs are issued on blockchains, which are public systems that record data, specific transactions between parties. They are non-fungible, which means they are unique, as opposed to fungible tokens such as bitcoin, which can be exchanged equally.
NFTs can be shown as images, GIFS, videos, and audio, all considered different art types. NFTs proliferated initially in 2012-2013, but they resurfaced in 2017 and then again for the 2020 bull run.
Many people have gradually come to realize the enormous potential for issuing assets on blockchains. NFTs aid in determining who owns an asset, prevent copying, and provide creators and collectors with direct ownership that can be traced via the blockchain via smart contracts.
The NFT market ensures that digital assets are scarce, that they are recorded, and that they cannot be altered. NFTs have effectively solved the issue of provenance.
When you buy an NFT, it has a unique ID and can’t be replicated, which means it can’t be copied. The transaction is important because it is both secure and permanent.
NFT Timeline: The Beginning
Some believe that NFTs are a passing fad. They’ve only been around for a few short years. However, the origins of the NFT space predate 2020 and the upsurge of Bored Ape Yacht Club. Here are some key dates from our NFT timeline.
Georg Nees, a German artist, exhibits computer-generated drawings for the first time in Stuttgart. Nees, along with Frieder Nake and A. Michael Noll, are regarded as computer art pioneers.
The term “generative music” is popularized by Brian Eno to describe real-world music that is continually shifting and different.
The following definition of generative art was also proposed:
Generative art is a term used to describe work that focuses on the processes involved in creating an artwork, which are usually (but not always) automated by the use of a computer or machine or by using mathematical or pragmatic procedures to define the rules by which such artworks are done.
One of the first examples of crypto art can be found on the Bitcoin blockchain in block 138725.
Yoni Assia and later Meni Rosenfeld propose the idea of “Colored Coins,” to be issued using Bitcoin blockchain technology, as a precursor to NFTs.
SatoshiLabs CEO Marek Palatinus introduces the Trezor hardware wallet. They create hardware wallets that will be used to secure custody of NFTs later on. The following year, their main competitor, Ledger, was founded in France.
Counterparty, built on the Bitcoin blockchain, is created by Robby Dermody, Adam Krellenstein, and Ouziel Slama. It allows for the creation of digital assets. One of the projects is a trading card game. Kevin McCoy, a Counterparty artist, creates one of the first NFTs.
The First NFT
Kevin McCoy created the first NFT in 2014 on the Namecoin blockchain, naming his work “quantum.” Fast forward to 2021, and his NFT was purchased for $1.4 million at the Sotheby’s Native Digital auction, proving that a work of art that was once questioned is now a piece of history.
When Kevin first introduced his artwork, it was revealed that the audience laughed and ridiculed the concept. We can still see parallels to the mainstream understanding of NFTs today. Kevin and his NFT are now well-known for being the first to experiment with novel technology.
Memes began to appear on the blockchain in 2016, at a time when they were thriving. Specifically, the “Rare Pepes”, which are cartoon representations of frogs created by Matt Furie and have a long history in meme culture.
The frogs were sold on the Rare Pepe Wallet website, which has thousands of pepes in various styles and forms. The rarest of all pepes was sold for 205 ETH in March 2020, which equated to $320,000 at the time.
This sale was yet another catalyst in the NFT and crypto worlds, encouraging a growing number of people to recognize and value digital assets, even if they are memes.
A year after the pepes, John Watkinson and Matt Hall launched CryptoPunks, an experiment on the Ethereum blockchain that minted 10,000 computer generated, unique characters for free. CryptoPunks are a cross between ERC721 and ERC20.
They saw no popularity at first, and the reaction was relatively quiet until they were suddenly sold out within 24 hours. Initially selling for a couple of dollars, CryptoPunks are now worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
They are a staple of the NFT collection and one of the most desired avatars in the entire space.
Cryptokitties, which was also released in 2017, was the first NFT game to hit the blockchain, allowing players to buy kitties, breed, play, and sell their digital cats using ether. Since the game’s release, they’ve made millions of dollars in direct and secondary sales.
The game allowed many new users to encounter and interact with NFTs using the ERC721, thereby increasing public acceptance of the expanding concept. Furthermore, Crypotkitties such as CryptoPunks sparked a surge in NFT collections to follow, resulting in a much larger market.
The launch of Dapper Labs NBA Topshot introduced thousands of sports fans to the NFT world, where they could buy and trade NFT cards digitally. Each “moment” is captured in a brief video of the basketball play, and the rarity of each moment varies.
However, the token is more than just a trading card; it also serves as a membership card, granting access to real-world NBA benefits, products, activities, and experiences. NBA TopShot was and continues to be one of the primary entry points for NFT collectors for many.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club
The BAYC undoubtedly sparked the NFT boom; it is a collection of 10,000 randomly created apes that will be released in May 2021. Like Crypto Punks, they struggled to sell out during the week-long presale, until the entire collection sold out overnight.
Despite the fact that the collection began with a small group chat, and a low-fi radio channel, it has now grown into the largest NFT collection worth billions of dollars.
A number of high-profile celebrities have aped in, expanding the group through The Bored Ape Kennel Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club, as well as real-life events like ape fest.
The BAYC offers collectors a membership pass that includes a wealth of utility as shown in their roadmap, such as a game, merch, a DAO, token, and in real-life events.
Wolf Game is among the most recent play-to-earn games, with over 13,000 ETH in volume since its release. The game entails metaverse sheep and wolf trading, as well as microeconomics and staking, both of which have become essential dynamics in the NFT space.
Following its meteoric rise, several projects have attempted to replicate its success. The interactive nature of this NFT is undoubtedly another step forward in the NFT world.
We are still in the early stages of understanding the potential for innovation and opportunity in the NFT space. All of the projects mentioned above are excellent examples of NFT development, but there are many more that have not been mentioned in this article.
What comes next is the pressing question on our minds right now. Play-to-earn games and tokens are becoming increasingly popular, with numerous variations on the way. In terms of NFTs, there is no doubt that they will persist.
There are numerous opportunities, and we are currently seeing mass adoption and acknowledgment from major corporate brands, most recently Adidas.
NFTs were mocked a few years ago, and they are still somewhat underestimated today. But we do know that as time passes, NFTs’ potential as a technology important in our daily lives grows, and this is becoming clearer every day.