NFT Scoop with MK Manoylov: A Brief History of NFTs

Episode 68 of Season 4 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block's MK Manoylov and The Block Research's Thomas Bialek.

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Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the blockchain-based method to verify and transfer ownership of a digital asset, exploded in popularity in 2021. 

Though some collections such as NBA Top Shot and CryptoPunks had existed before last year’s climb in popularity, NFTs largely did not enter mainstream consciousness until the arrival of Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of 10,000 algorithmically assembled images of languid monkeys. 

The success of Bored Ape Yacht Club in the spring of 2021 sparked an influx of large-scale NFT collections such as Mutant Ape Yacht Club, Meebits, Doodles, Cool Cats and Azuki. What followed was the scramble in the crypto community to buy in early to the next popular project — and the rush for non-crypto natives to understand what these types of tokens even are. 

Around the same time as so-called profile-picture projects emerged, NFTs also expanded into the blockchain-based gaming sector through play-to-earn (P2E) mechanics. The P2E game Axie Infinity particularly emerged as a giant in the blockchain-based gaming space in the late summer and early fall of last year before losing traction. 

In all, NFTs surpassed $13 billion in trading volume in 2021. NFT trading volume cooled in concert with the broader crypto bear market in 2022. With high-profile parties like Coinbase and GameStop entering the space, this technology doesn’t seem to be going away. With it, so too are pertinent questions around copyright and ownership.

In this debut episode of The Block's NFT Scoop, reporter MK Manoylov speaks with The Block Research's Thomas Bialek about the history of NFTs, where they came from and what lead to their explosion in popularity in 2021.

In this episode, Manoylov and Bialek also discuss

  • The history of NFTs prior to 2021.
  • What key players emerged in the NFT mania of last year.
  • Pertinent questions still to be answered in the NFT space.

This episode is brought to you by our sponsors Chainalysis & IWC Schaffhausen

About Chainalysis
Chainalysis is the leading blockchain data platform. We provide data, software, services, and research to government agencies, exchanges, financial institutions, and insurance and cybersecurity companies in over 60 countries. Backed by Accel, Addition, Benchmark, Coatue, Paradigm, Ribbit, and other leading firms in venture capital, Chainalysis builds trust in blockchains to promote more financial freedom with less risk. For more information, visit

About IWC Schaffhausen
IWC Schaffhausen is a Swiss luxury watch manufacturer based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Known for its unique engineering approach to watchmaking, IWC combines the best of human craftsmanship and creativity with cutting-edge technology and processes. With collections like the Portugieser and the Pilot’s Watches, the brand covers the whole spectrum from elegant timepieces to sports watches. For more information, visit

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