Got $1,000? The Original Source Code for the World Wide Web Is For Sale as an NFT
In 1989, British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, which since changed the world forever. Sotheby’s will be auctioning the original source code for the World Wide Web, which includes the original time stamped files, signed by Berners-Lee, as an NFT (non-fungible token).
The NFT will be offered in a standalone online auction titled ‘This Changed Everything.’ This will be the first historical artefact relating to this landmark moment ever to be sold, and is offered directly by Sir Tim Berners-Lee himself.
“Three decades ago, I created something which, with the subsequent help of a huge number of collaborators across the world, has been a powerful tool for humanity,” Berners-Lee said. “For me, the best bit about the web has been the spirit of collaboration. While I do not make predictions about the future, I sincerely hope its use, knowledge and potential will remain open and available to us all to continue to innovate, create and initiate the next technological transformation, that we cannot yet imagine.
“NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artefact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists,” he added. “They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web.”
What is an NFT?
An NFT is a special bit of Internet content and is considered a digital asset with a unique identity recorded in a database that allows its ownership to be tracked. It can be traded from person to person and comes in various forms, like JPEG, GIF or a video. In recent years, the value of NFTs have drastically increased in value as more and more collectors pay insanely huge amounts of amount to own them. They work similarly to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin.
Sotheby says that the NFT that’s up for sale is composed of four elements; the original time-stamped files containing the source code written by Berners-Lee; an animated visualization of the code; a letter written by Berners-Lee reflecting on the code and the process of creating it; as well as a digital “poster” of the full code created by Berners-Lee from the original files using Python, including a graphic of his physical signature; all digitally signed.
“Over the past several centuries humankind has seen a succession of paradigm shifts that have brought us forward into the modern era; Galileo’s proof of Heliocentricity, Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to name but a few, but none has had the seismic impact on our daily lives as the creation of the World Wide Web,” said Cassandra Hatton, VP, global head of science & popular culture at Sotheby’s. “Sir Tim’s invention created a new world, democratizing the sharing of information, creating new ways of thinking and interacting, and staying connected to one another; it is hard to imagine our world without it, and even harder to imagine where it will bring us next. This unique and singular auction will celebrate Sir Tim’s groundbreaking achievement, in which collectors will finally have the opportunity, thanks to the NFT format, to own the ultimate digitally-born artefact.”
“The brainchild of one of the most important thinkers that the UK has ever produced, the web is a truly great British invention-one that has gone global in all senses of the word,” added Oliver Barker, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe. “As a company that itself took its first steps in London, and is now making its mark all over the world, we at Sotheby’s could not be more proud to be part of a celebration of this defining moment three decades on.”
Who is Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Berners-Lee is considered one of the greatest innovators of the modern age. And the apple did not fall far from the tree. He grew up in a household of mathematicians and computer scientists-his parents worked on the Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first commercially available general-purpose digital computer.
A graduate of Oxford University, Berners-Lee had always dreamed of creating a common information space in which everyone could communicate, resulting in the creation of the first web browser and the first website. He went on to make sure to preserve the free use of the World Wide Web on a global scale and is one of the greatest acts of philanthropy in recent history. After three decades, there are now over 1.7 billion websites being accessed by 4.6 billion people around the world, with children learning HTML in school to make their own webpages.
The sale is scheduled to open from June 23 to 30, with bidding starting at a very low $1,000. Proceeds of the sale will benefit initiatives that Sir Tim and Lady Berners-Lee support. Interest in cryptoart and other collectible pieces of history like the WWW Source Code in NFTs are becoming the hottest thing in the art and auction world. So it will not be that surprising if the sale ends up in the six or seven-digit mark.
Here’s a quick look on how much serious collectors are willing to spend for these one-off digital assets. Even the original NFT of YouTube’s most viewed home-made video was sold for $761,000 (about P36.6 million).
For more information about the auction, visit sothebys.com/WWW
Don't forget to subscribe to the Esquire Philippines YouTube channel.