NFT mania and digital ownership

Welcome to the History of Crypto, a Cointelegraph series that brings readers back to the most significant events in the crypto space. Powered by Phemex, the timeline allows crypto community members to explore and look back at the important events that shaped the industry into what it is today.

In the tumultuous landscape of the digital age, where trends come and go at the speed of a click, one phenomenon has risen to prominence like few others: nonfungible tokens (NFTs). The years 2020 and 2021 marked a period of unprecedented growth and widespread adoption of these digital assets, reshaping the way we perceive ownership, art and the internet itself. In fact, in 2021 alone, the NFT market saw approximately $25 billion in trading volume, compared to an almost non-existent metric just a few years prior.

.@blackmirror_xp just launched its Smile Club digital collectibles on @base today

Here’s everything you need to know ⬇️

— nft now (@nftnow) March 12, 2024

While the concept of blockchain technology had been around for over a decade, the emergence of NFTs captured the imagination of both creators and collectors. NFTs represent unique digital assets stored on a blockchain, ensuring their scarcity and authenticity. This innovation allowed for the tokenization of digital art, music, videos and even tweets, turning intangible creations into valuable commodities.

The concept of NFTs can be traced back to at least 2012 when the Colored Coins protocol was created on the Bitcoin blockchain. This protocol allowed users to issue custom tokens representing digital or physical assets. However, it wasn’t until later, with the emergence of Ethereum smart contracts and the ERC-271 token standard in 2017, that nonfungible tokens specifically for digital assets became possible.

One of the earliest and most notable examples of NFTs gaining widespread attention in 2017 was CryptoKitties. Developed by Canadian studio Axiom Zen, CryptoKitties is a blockchain-based virtual game that allows players to…


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