When Did NFTs Start? The NFT History Timeline

November 21, 2023

Few innovations have captured imaginations and headlines quite like Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). From the groundbreaking sale of Beeple's digital artwork for $69 million to the worldwide phenomenon of Pudgy Penguins, the NFT saga is punctuated with riveting chapters. 

But how did we get here - when did NFTs start? Who created NFTS and what was the first NFT? We’ll answer all these questions as we walk you through the NFT history timeline in this article.

We'll also unveil how you can etch your name into this ever-evolving history of NFTs with Pudgy Penguins as we retrace this electrifying journey. So, let’s dive right into the NFT history timeline below, starting with a brief introduction.

First, What are NFTs?

At its core, an NFT, or Non-Fungible Token, is a one-of-a-kind digital asset verified using blockchain technology, the same technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. 

Unlike these cryptocurrencies, which are fungible and can be exchanged on a one-for-one basis, NFTs are unique, and each token has distinct information or attributes that make it irreplaceable and impossible to interchange on a like-for-like basis.

In simpler terms, think of an NFT as a unique certificate of authenticity for a specific digital item, whether it's art, music, videos, or any other form of digital creation. This certificate is stored on the blockchain, ensuring its security and verifying its originality. 

NFTs bring back the value of “originality” in the bustling digital age where duplication is effortless. They allow creators to truly own and monetize their creations while giving collectors the joy of possessing something truly unique in the digital realm. 

With a better understanding of what these are, let’s dive right into the history of NFTs below and look at the timeline of when these started.

When Did NFTs Start? A Walk Through the NFT History Timeline

So, when did NFTs start? What was the first NFT? We’ll start at the very beginning and bring you up to the present day and beyond - speculating on where this digital phenomenon could be headed next.

When Were NFTs Created?

So, when did NFTs start? While you (and many others) were made familiar with these in 2017 with the crypto boom, NFTs actually first popped up three years prior in 2014.

This was a transformative period for the crypto world, with Ethereum's introduction offering a platform that could support such innovative ideas. 

Ethereum's promise of ‘smart contracts’ allowed for the creation and trading of unique tokens - laying the groundwork for what would become NFTs.

Who Created NFTs and What Was the First NFT?

So, who was responsible for sparking this revolution - who created NFTs and what was the first NFT? While many pioneers contributed to the evolution of NFTs, Kevin McCoy deserves special mention. 

This artist and his partner Anil Dash conceptualized the idea of a digital certificate of authenticity for digital art using blockchain in 2014. Their creation Quantum is recognized by many as the very first art-related NFT. 

It was an image of a pixelated octagon that changes colors and moves like an octopus. Simple, yet transformative. 

McCoy's revolutionary vision suggested that digital art could have value and uniqueness, much like a physical art piece. This shifted perceptions, challenging the traditional art world and opening doors for countless digital creators.

When Did NFTs Start to Become More Popular?

2017 began a tectonic shift in the NFT landscape. With Ethereum's platform maturing and gaining widespread acceptance, the year saw an explosion of decentralized apps (DApps) that leveraged its smart contract capabilities. 

NFTs became the darlings of the crypto world, creating ripples far beyond their niche community. This year marked the start of the meteoric rise of NFTs from intriguing experiments to global sensations. This is where we started to get some of the most famous projects to date…

Popular Projects Along the NFT History Timeline

  • CryptoPunks: Among the earliest and most iconic NFT projects, CryptoPunks introduced a series of 10,000 pixelated characters on the Ethereum blockchain. The sale of CryptoPunk #7523 for a staggering $11 million in 2021 epitomized the immense value and cultural significance these digital collectibles garnered over time.
  • Everydays - The First 5000 Days by Beeple: A digital mosaic by artist Beeple, this piece changed the landscape of art and NFTs forever. Auctioned at Christie's for an astounding $69 million, it declared the arrival of digital art on the global stage and underscored the serious investment potential of NFTs.
  • Rare Pepe: Beginning as a character in 2005 and evolving into a meme by 2008, Rare Pepe's transition into an NFT in 2016 showcased the vast possibilities of the medium. Its meteoric rise culminated in a sale at a Sotheby's auction for $3.6 million, cementing its place in NFT history.
  • Decentraland: Venturing beyond digital art, Decentraland is a virtual world where plots of 'land' are NFTs. With a market cap exceeding $1.5 billion, it's a testament to the diverse and expansive potential of NFT-based projects.
  • NBA Top Shots: Marrying sports memorabilia with NFTs, NBA Top Shots offers digital collectible highlights. The project not only received widespread attention from basketball fans but also drew investments from legends like Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.
  • Bored Apes: This NFT project by Yuga Labs took the world by storm, representing a series of hand-drawn cartoon apes. By 2022, Yuga Labs' valuation soared to $4 billion, a testament to the cultural and financial power of innovative NFT projects.
  • Pudgy Penguins: Born in 2021, Pudgy Penguins not only captured hearts with their adorable designs but also made history by being among the first NFT brands to sell physical toys at scale. Embracing both the tangible and digital, the brand perfectly encapsulates the evolution and potential of NFTs.

We’ll talk more about our brand, Pudgy Penguins, in a moment and how you can become part of the history of NFTs by joining our community. First, let’s look at some physical brands that have decided to get in on the NFT fun.

Brands Who Have Hopped Aboard the NFT Train Along the Timeline

It isn't just independent artists and tech innovators making waves. Renowned global brands are realizing the potential of this transformative digital frontier. Here are a few that have ventured into the space, embedding NFTs into their marketing strategies and product offerings.

  • Adidas: The sportswear giant has collaborated with the likes of Bored Ape Yacht Club and Punks Comic. Adidas unveiled its “Into the Metaverse” collection which signaled its commitment to exploring the digital realm's possibilities.
  • Coca-Cola: This is a brand synonymous with timeless marketing. But, America’s favorite soft-drink manufacturer has pounced on the possibilities that NFTs offer as well. Coca-Cola introduced NFT-backed digital wearables for the virtual world of Decentraland. This move not only showcased the brand's adaptability but also its dedication to pioneering new modes of consumer engagement.
  • Taco Bell: This fast-food titan embraced NFTs by releasing unique digital art pieces, cleverly named “Gif-Icons”. The sales from these tokens went to the Taco Bell Foundation, supporting the brand's commitment to youth education.
  • Hot Wheels: This brand revved up the nostalgia and took its iconic toy cars into the digital universe. They auctioned NFTs of their legendary designs, allowing enthusiasts and collectors to own a piece of digital automotive history.
  • Gucci: Luxury fashion meets digital artistry. Gucci made a splash in the NFT space by auctioning exclusive digital fashion items, blending the brand's legacy of craftsmanship with futuristic digital innovation. It’s been said that sales of Gucci’s NFTs even surpass their physical flagship offerings!

The Future of NFTs

One of the biggest misconceptions we see as it pertains to the history of NFTs is where we currently stand. Some believe that this was a “trend” that peaked during COVID and is now on the downturn. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we believe that NFTs are in their infancy right now.

Their current applications, as vast and varied as they seem, merely scratch the surface of their potential. The ceiling for NFTs remains unknown, with the boundary of possibility constantly shifting. 

NFTs will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of art, commerce, entertainment, and beyond. This movement will continue to gain momentum as technology advances and creators & consumers alike become more accustomed to the digital-first mindset.

The ride so far has been exhilarating, but if one thing's for certain, it's that the NFT journey has only just begun. So, why not become a part of the NFT history timeline yourself today with Pudgy Penguins?

Become a Part of NFT History Today With Pudgy Penguins!

Pudgy Penguins is more than just an NFT collection - we’re leading a movement that radiates warmth, inclusivity, and positivity. 

From being one of the first NFT brands to venture into the physical realm by selling toys at scale to providing our community with diverse opportunities, from IP licensing to exclusive events - we're redefining what it means to be an NFT brand.

Explore our penguin merch which includes penguin toys, penguin figurines, penguin plush animals, and more. See what catches your eye as we wind down this conversation on the history of NFTs. 

Bringing Our Conversation on the History of NFTs to a Close

The voyage through the NFT timeline is nothing short of a thrilling odyssey, from its humble beginnings in 2014 to today's multi-million-dollar digital masterpieces. 

This digital renaissance has not only reshaped our understanding of value, ownership, and art but also paved the way for communities, brands, and creators to come together in unprecedented ways.

Yet, history is not just about looking back - it's about realizing that every moment presents an opportunity to be a part of the next chapter. As the NFT landscape continues to evolve, the chance to make your mark, to be part of a movement, is right at your fingertips.

So, why remain a spectator when you can be a trailblazer? Dive into the vibrant world of Pudgy Penguins and join our family today!

Learn More:

Go Back

Pudgy Media is built with for The Huddle

Pudgy Media is built with for The Huddle