A Brief History on NFTs
Updated: Jan 14
One of the earliest case studies of blockchain collectibles was Spells of Genesis, where founder Shaban Shaame stated that people were selling fake versions of character cards and transacting on PayPal.
To combat this, Shaame created a blockchain trading card game so all players could identify authentic cards.
Left: Spells of Genesis NFT game card
After Spells came CryptoPunks, which was founded by Matt Hall of Larva Labs. Hall was fascinated by the idea of creating a finite set of characters on the blockchain, so he developed 10,000 24x24 bit characters known as CryptoPunks.
As one of the first introductions of scarcity for digital files, Punks started as low as $0.11 and have sold for as much as $1.5 million.
Left: Animated Cryptopunks
But the biggest fascination with early NFTs came with CryptoKitties, which were digital cats to trade on the blockchain.
When CryptoKitty sold for over $100,000 in 2017, it gave NFTs their first big story.
Despite the larger and larger price tags, NFTs were still only traded amongst a niche group.
These were often people with too much Bitcoin or Ethereum and nowhere to spend it, which is why many early high-dollar examples included Rare Pepes, CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties rather than what most would consider traditional art or collectibles.
Left: Rare Pepe
The mainstream perception of these endemic communities viewed them as very fringe, and even in the case of CryptoKitties, was labeled as far similar to being the "beanie babies of blockchain." Still, the early effort of these groups laid the groundwork for NFTs' potential, which became alluring for the first wave of mainstream participants.