Namebase Blog

Everyone thinks NFTs are just art, but we think they can be much more. Here’s why.

The first NFT was registered 36 years ago. Learn why Handshake domains are a direct continuation of that legacy.

You might think NFTs have only been around a few years. But the oldest NFT on the Internet is actually 36 years old.

It’s currently owned by Aron Meystedt, though the original owner was Symbolics Inc., a computer systems company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Here’s what it looks like:

In this case, the NFT didn't live on the site. It was the site itself. was the first ever registered domain, and domain names were the Internet’s first stab at Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

Non fungible just means that something is unique, and has value that differs from other items that might fall into the same category.

For example, trading cards? Non fungible. The U.S. dollar? I’d trade you any dollar in my wallet for any dollar in yours, so, fungible. Domain names? Non fungible.

Domain names are non fungible because Aron - the owner of - likely wouldn’t want to trade his domain for

Although domain names are the Internet’s original NFTs, they’ve needed a bit of an update since that first one was registered nearly four decades ago.

This is where Handshake comes in. Handshake domains are Internet domains in the sense that they can be used as a website (while providing substantial improvements around security and ownership).

Handshake names are also NFTs. This is true in both the literal sense, and true when you compare them to the NFTs that have blown up in recent years.

Many assume that NFTs are just art pieces with… something special.

In reality, when you see an NFT like a cryptopunk, all you’re seeing is a photo with a little piece of metadata. Just like when you take a photo on your iPhone, and it records the time you took the photo behind the scenes, NFT art is just a photo with the owner recorded behind the scenes.

You could also think about it as similar to an artist signing a copy of someone’s album cover to increase its value. With NFT art, the creator will often promise to create only one piece, “sign it”, and transfer ownership to its collector. This allows for, and ensures the digital scarcity of that piece.

If you then want to prove you own it, you tell people to look at the metadata to see who the owner is. Another real world equivalent would be opening up a library book to see who the current owner is on the inside cover.

When you buy a Handshake domain, you’re similarly adding your name as the owner to its “metadata”. Anyone can look up a Handshake domain and check who the current owner is.

The difference between Handshake domains and regular domains (and even many other NFTs) is that Handshake domains are managed by a blockchain, not people..

And because Handshake has a blockchain at its core, it’s able to interact with the rest of the crypto ecosystem super easily. Just like an art based NFT you might buy on OpenSea, Handshake names can be bought with cryptocurrencies. They can be purchased from other owners on the Namebase Marketplace, or if you’re registering a domain no one has yet registered before, you’re acquiring the domain from the blockchain itself.

They’re stored in digital wallets, and can be shown across the web. Where people are using art based NFTs as their profile picture on sites like Twitter, they’re using their Handshake domains as their username.

If your profile pic’s already an NFT, your username should be too.

And as the adoption of Web 3 accelerates, more and more platforms will build your identity around the assets you own. Sites like Namer News allow you to login with your Handshake name, which is also your website address, and contact name on every other platform that supports Handshake login.

We hope this helps clarify how Handshake names are also NFTs. Join in on the domain name NFT wave by signing up for a free Namebase account here.

Jake Schaeffer's profile picture
Jake Schaeffer
Marketing Manager|

Jake heads up marketing at Namebase. Before Namebase, he was a part of the first class at the Minerva Schools.