First NFT
Anil Dash, Kevin McCoy, Quantum
first first
United States (New York)

The first NFT (non-fungible token), and the only one to be created via Bitcoin, was Quantum, a short looping animation created by American digital artist Kevin McCoy. It was minted on 5 May 2014 at an event called Seven on Seven, which was an annual hackathon designed to link artists and technologists. At Seven on Seven, McCoy was partnered with software developer and tech entrepreneur Anil Dash, and they developed the NFT concept (which they called a "Monegraph") using, NameCoin, a blockchain software modelled from Bitcoin’s code. During their final presentation, McCoy sold Quantum to Dash for the change that Dash had in his wallet at the time ($4).

Seven on Seven was structured in a similar way to a "hackathon" – a technology event in which teams are given a fixed (usually very short) period of time to come up with a novel idea and hack together a working prototype. McCoy and Dash decided to try to come up with a means of using blockchain technology to allow digital artists to monetise their work.

Dash has subsequently expressed dissatisfaction with the NFT phenomenon, pointing out how little this technology has changed from his and McCoy's hastily constructed prototype. In particular, he regrets that no-one has come up with a better way of linking the blockchain entry more concretely with the actual artwork. In May 2014, he and McCoy decided to simply add a hyperlink to the owned artwork because they couldn't think of a way to encode it into the blockchain entry itself. This means that if the data stored at the link on an NFT is lost, or changed, the blockchain entry becomes meaningless.