A Brief History of NFTs

Cryptopunks on display at Superchief’s NFT Gallery in NYC


NFTs are hitting the mainstream and are here to stay (read our NFTs 101 blog post for a simple explanation of NFTs here). While the last year has definitely proved there’s a true appetite and need for NFTs, we thought we’d take a look at how we got here and pay homage to the early players in the space with a short but mighty timeline. 


2012: Colored Coins

While Colored Coins were not linked to individual assets, their ecosystem laid the foundation for NFTs. Colored Coins were meant to be a new form of bitcoin that were identifiable from standard bitcoin transactions.

2014: Counterparty

Counterparty started as a “Bitcoin 2.0” (later known as NFT) platform and allowed for users to create currencies and trade them. They also provided for decentralized asset exchange.


2014: First NFT art piece

In May of 2014, Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash created the first one-off NFT at the Seven on Seven conference at the New Museum in NYC. Prior to this piece, assets were usually multiples and fungible, meaning they were not unique. 

2015: Etheria

Etheria represents the first project fully focused on NFTs. While the initial success of the tradable hexagonal tile offering was slow, the recent NFT boom provided huge traction in 2021.

2016: MakersPlace

While one of today’s most prevalent NFT marketplaces officially came to be in 2016, their first offerings didn’t publicly launch until 2019. Fun fact: Pinterest’s employee #1 was one of the platform’s founders.

2017: Peperium

Peperium offered a marketplace and trading card game that allowed collectors the chance to own rare Pepe and Meme NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. 

2017: Cryptopunks

Cryptopunks is a collection of 10k unique characters on the Ethereum blockchain developed by Matt Hall and John Watkinson of Larva Labs.

2017: CryptoKitties

Known as one of the most successful NFT launches, CrytoKitties brought in a large audience of new NFT collectors by offering a game that allows players to purchase, collect, breed, and even sell virtual kitties. CryptoKitties was developed by Axiom Zen, which later became Dapper Labs.

2017: OpenSea

A peer-to-peer open marketplace, OpenSea allows users to buy and sell gaming items, digital art, and other goods backed by a blockchain. 

2018: SuperRare

As the name suggests, SuperRare sells very rare (often 1/1) NFTs on its platform for crypto collectables.

2020: Rarible

Similar to OpenSea, Rarible is a marketplace users to trade digitable collectables.

2020: NBA Topshots

Brought to life by Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties, NBA Topshots enables collectors to own NBA plays from actual broadcast footage, and is the most successful mass market marketplace for NFTs. 

While an incredible amount of NFT marketplaces have come to life in the past 24 months, the ones called out above have been quite significant in defining the landscape.

2020: Physical Twins for video NFTs

We couldn’t miss a chance to put ourselves on this beautiful timeline. Since working with Beeple on historic drops starting in December of 2020, we’ve been humbled to work with creators and platforms alike to make NFTs physically collectable. Our Video Prints act as physical twins that represent a replica of your video NFTs.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds!