Evolution of the NFT

5 min

Though the history of NFT is short, it already has its stages of evolution.Do you know what the first NFTs were like? Bet you don't.

The first non-interchangeable tokens appeared in 2011, as part of bitDNS. The idea was to combine a crypto token with a .bit domain, so the first NFTs weren't even pictures - what a shock.

Later in 2012, "colored coins" from Bitcoin were being developed. Their goal was to add metadata to bitcoin transactions, using the blockchain as a registry to store that data.

The first NFT art

Первый NFT арт

The very first NFT artwork was "Quantum" by artist Kevin McCoy, released on May 3, 2014. It looked quite simple: a pixelated octagon with hypnotic ripples.

As time passed, blockchain technology improved markedly. Counterparty (Bitcoin 2.0), a platform where digital assets could be created, was released.

It was on it that the NFT meme collection "Rare Pepes" appeared in 2016. At that time, the famous toad flooded the minds of users, and it was later that the collection appeared.

The second "birth" of the NFT

Криптопанки

In 2017, it was the hour of the second "birth" of NFT.Then token standards appeared on Ethereum, which allowed the mass creation of NFT to begin. At that moment, a collection was released that not immediately, but eventually exploded the NFT market - CryptoPunks.

10,000 simple pixelated and stylish art inspired by the cyberpunk genre. At first they were given away for free, as an experiment. And after on the secondary market, the punks began to sell for fabulous amounts of money. The most expensive Cryptopunk was sold for $23.7 million to Chain CEO Deepak Tapliyal.

The popularity of Play-to-Earn

CryptoKitties

The next stage of evolution is related to CryptoKitties, a Play-to-earn game where players need to breed, sell, and raise NFT cats.

Ethereum blockchain was flooded with virtual cats, tens of thousands of players actively played it and earned huge money. The most expensive cat was sold for $270K. Cartoon art graphics played its role too, and the possibility to cross NFT and get the new unique cat seemed to influence CryptoKitties success the most.

It makes sense that after that more and more games with "Play and Earn" mechanics started to appear. One of the most popular games at the moment is Decentraland. It's a VR game where you can build and set up your own houses or establishments like casinos and theaters. Considering that this is a virtual reality project, the art component, to put it bluntly, is not particularly impressive. But despite that, Decentraland is very popular.

But we got a little ahead of ourselves and forgot to mention another project - Axie Infinity. A decentralized game where the user partially owns the project. Yes, even blockchain can do that. The gameplay is very similar to CryptoKitties: players also need to raise and cross in-game Axie characters - fantastic creatures that apparently came from another planet.

The main distinguishing feature of Axie Infinity are in-game AXS tokens. With these, players can directly influence the economy and even the development of the game by voting.

NFT Boom

Everyday's: the First 5000 Days NFT

And now we come to the second half of 2021, the real NFT boom. At this time, the market began to grow dramatically: the prestigious Christie's and Sotheby's auctions moved sales online (because of the pandemic). This year, the most expensive NFT sold was Everyday's: the First 5000 Days NFT. Those with even a slight interest in the subject of NFT have probably heard that this work sold for $69 million. The art itself contained 5,000 paintings by the artist Beeple, which he had previously posted daily online. 

That same year, the top blockchains Cardano, Solano, Tezos and Flow launched their versions of NFT. Thousands of collections began selling on marketplaces, the most sought-after of which was OpenSea.

Celebrities such as Snoop Dog, Madonna and Eminem are also not standing aside and are releasing their tokens to the delight of fans.

Crypto Winter

Since mid-2022, the NFT market has been experiencing a decline due to the general downturn in the crypto market. After the "gas crisis" on Ether, which greatly inflated the cost of transactions, projects began to move to other blockchains, the same Solana.

The Open Network with its cheap transactions can play on this. NFT on TON is already very popular, as evidenced by sales of large collections. And after EVM launch on TON, many NFT projects, especially play-to-earn games, can go there. The prospects are really interesting, given the enticingly low transaction fees and the possibility of TON integration with Telegram, which was clearly hinted at recently by Pavel Durov.


Winter is always followed by spring, a time of great changes and new achievements. The market of non-exchangeable tokens is sure to continue its growth and will surprise more than once those who think NFT is just selling pictures on the Internet and an incomprehensible fun for geeks.