NFT Timeline: Follow the Rise of Non-Fungible Tokens Year-By Year

NFT timeline

Want to learn more about non-fungible tokens? Discover some of the key dates in this NFT timeline.

Some say NFTs are a trend or a fad. They’ve only been in existence for a few short years. But, the genesis of the NFT space long predates 2020 and the rise of Bored Ape Yacht Club. Here are some of the key dates in our NFT timeline.


German artist Georg Nees exhibits computer-generated drawings in Stuttgart for the first time. Nees, along with Frieder Nake and A. Michael Noll, are considered the pioneers of computer art.

The Mid 1990s

Brian Eno popularizes the term generative music to describe real-world music that is constantly changing and different.


English software artist Adrian Ward offers this definition of generative art:

Generative art is a term given to work which stems from concentrating on the processes involved in producing an artwork, usually (although not strictly) automated by the use of a machine or computer, or by using mathematic or pragmatic instructions to define the rules by which such artworks are executed.


One of the earliest examples of crypto art appears on the Bitcoin blockchain via block number 138725. The example resurfaces on Twitter in 2021.


In a precursor to NFTs, Yoni Assia and later Meni Rosenfeld propose the concept of “Colored Coins,” to be issued using Bitcoin blockchain technology.


Marek Palatinus, CEO of SatoshiLabs, launches the Trezor hardware wallet. They produce hardware wallets that will later be used to secure custody over NFTs. Their primary competitor, Ledger is founded in France the following year.

Robby Dermody, Adam Krellenstein and Ouziel Slama create Counterparty, built on the Bitcoin blockchain. It enables asset the creation of digital assets. Projects include a trading card game. Artist Kevin McCoy mints one of the first NFTs on Counterparty.


Artist Kevin McCoy mints one of the first NFTs on Counterparty.

From New York, digital artist Kevin McCoy mints the NFT “Quantum”. Today, it’s worth in excess of $1.4 million. 

The Bitcoin blockchain NFT Thing is another contender for the first NFT according to Loonardo Joe Vinci.


Vitalik Buterin
John Phillips, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Programmer Vitalik Buterin launches Ethereum with the support of other founders like Gavin Wood and Charles Hoskinson (who later founded Cardano).

Buterin later says he’s an avid World of Warcraft player and was inspired to develop Ethereum after Blizzard nerfed his warlock’s Siphon Life spell.

On his blog, Buterin wrote, 

“I cried myself to sleep, and on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring.” 

Terra Nullius, another early NFT project, launches on the Ethereum blockchain. It enables owners to stake their claims and write a message on the blockchain. It translates as a land belonging to no one.

The NFT Blockpots mints on Ethereum with a supply of 457. It’s the first NFT that owners can transfer.


Counterparty collaborates with the traditional trading card game Force of Will to launch a platform built on the Bitcoin protocol.

ConsenSys Software launches the software wallet MetaMask. Later, it becomes popular with the NFT community for buying, storing and selling non-fungible tokens. 

Force Of Will and Rare Pepe NFTs trade on Counterparty. The minting of UFOPEPE mints is one of the earliest NFT GIFs.


The Ethereum Name Service, a platform for purchasing web 3.0 domain names, launches.

Self-professed creative technologists John Watkinson and Matt Hall create and release 10,0000 NFT CryptoPunks NFTS on the Ethereum blockchain. Watkinson and Hall found LarvaLabs. They subsequently launch NFT projects like Autoglyphs (a generative art NFT) and Meebits. 

CryptoPunks were free to mint, but even today, they’re unavailable to buy on secondary marketplaces like on OpenSea. 

CryptoKitties, one of the earlier high-profile Ethereum-based NFT projects, launches. 50,000 exist. This game makes headlines for congesting the blockchain during a bull run. 

Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah launch digital goods and NFT marketplace OpenSea. The following year, OpenSea receives $2.1 million in funding from Y-Combinator.

In a precursor to Metaverse games, 3D virtual world Decentraland is founded. It sells land tokens first and then implements them the following year. 

Curio cards mints. 30 unique collectibles from seven artists exist. It’s one of the first art NFTS on Ethereum

EtherRock, a game built on the Ethereum blockchain, mints, with 100 available. AKA EthRock, it attracts mainstream press.


Irish Digital artist Kevin Abosch sells Forever Rose, an ERC-20 NFT, to ten investors for one million dollars. It’s the largest digital crypto artwork sale to date.

NFT artist XCOPY mints Gifs on

The play-to-earn game Axie Infinity launches. Games can earn crypto battling Pokemon-inspired characters. Today, it’s the biggest blockchain game with over 1.8 million active players.

The NFT project PepeDapp mints. It’s based on the popular Pepe memes. Later on, fans reminted the project, so it’s ERC1155-compliant and tradable on secondary marketplaces like OpenSea. 


ArtBlocks launches the bluechip generative art project Autoglyphs. It’s the first on-chain generative art project. 512 are available.

Soul In The Machine: An Art Experience, an NFT project by 19 artists, is auctioned at Ethereal Summit.

Alex Salnikov and Alexei Falin launch the NFT marketplace Rarible.

Blockade airdrops 6150 NFTs to early users of OpenSea. Later on, OpenSea competitors like LooksRare use this approach to launch their marketplaces and projects. 


The generative art project Art Blocks launches. It mints, curates and launches bluechip NFTS like Chromie Squiggles and Dimitri Cherniak’s The Eternal Pump.

NFT artist Pak creates Red, the first one pixel, one color NFt.

Nifty Gateway begins accepting FIAT payment payments from NFT buyers. launches, a Zilliqa NFT marketplace.

Pranksy, MetaKovan and Yield Guild Games announces a Pranksy LAND sale. It’s a combination of NFT land and art.


CyberKongz mints in March.

Bored Ape Yacht Club, soon to be popular with celebs and NFT influencers mints in April.

Coinbase lists on the Nasdaq stock exchange. 

Digital artist Beeple, aka Mike Winkelmann, sells his NFT Everydays: The First 5000 Days for $69 million dollars via Christie’s auction house. An NFT bubble ensues. Gas wars ensue. Celebrities like Eminem and Snoop Dogg begin using NFTS on Twitter or advocating for the creation of digital personas.

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sells an NFT of his first tweet for over $2.9 million. He donates the money to GiveDirectly. 

Canadian NFT artist Michah Dowbak aka Mad Dog Jones creates the first replicator NFT: The Replicator. It’ll produce approximately 220 NFTs during its lifetime. It becomes one of the most expensive NFTs of all time.

Many celebs and YouTubers announce or create NFTs including John Cleese, Lindsay Lohan, Eminem, Shawn Mendes, and Snoop Dogg.

Musical acts like Deadmau5, 3LAU Kings of Leon announce or create music NFTs.

From the traditional art world, Damien Hirst mints The Currency. 10,000 NFTS exist corresponding to real-world artworks. The NFT project is valued at over $500 million.


Microsoft purchases Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Analysts claim it’s Microsoft’s Metaverse play.

OpenSea claims over one million users worldwide and receives a £13.3 billion valuation. “We saw the NFT ecosystem explode last year, with OpenSea’s transaction volume increasing over 600x in 2021,” says Devin Finzer, co-founder and CEO of OpenSea.

Coinbase, which now claims over 89 million users worldwide, is set to launch its NFT marketplace.