In 2010, John Craig Venter, a high-profile and sometimes controversial figure in the fields of biotechnology and synthetic biology, made waves when his team produced what was called the first case of ‘synthetic life’. The team synthesised an entire genome (they printed every base of DNA) inserted into an E. coli emptied of DNA. The resulting organism became known as Syn 1.0 and carried within its genome several encoded ‘watermarks’ including the names of all 46 scientists involved in the project.
Although some have described this as the first case of artificial life, it is important to remember that the genome itself and thus all the 'instructions' for the organism was based almost entirely on the E. coli genome. Scientists are still yet to design an entirely new organism by writing a new genome.
A truly synthetic artificial cell remains to be created, so far there is no incidence of a living state (a self reproducing evolving system) that can come from a non-living state.