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News Report

World Wide Web Source Code to be Auctioned as NFT

2 mins
Updated by Ryan James

In Brief

  • Sotheby's will auction off the internet's original source code as an NFT.
  • The 9,555 lines of code were written by Tim Berners-Lee in the early 90s during his time at CERN.
  • The NFT sale will also include a letter written by Berners-Lee describing the process of creating the internet.
  • promo

Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee has announced that he will be auctioning off the original code for the internet as a non-fungible token (NFT). 

The sale is aptly entitled “This Changed Everything” and will be run by Sotheby’s London from June 23-30. Opening bids to buy the internet’s source code start at $1,000. Sales from the auction will go to benefit charities that Berners-Lee and his wife support. 

The NFT of the source code contains the original time-stamped files written by Berners-Lee back in 1989 while working at the research laboratory CERN. Berners-Lee suggested that the company look into an information management system that his bosses deemed “vague, but exciting.”

Despite the lukewarm response from management, Berners-Lee took it upon himself to write the implementations of three languages and protocols which make up most of the 9,555 lines of code. 

An auction full of history

The 9,555 lines of source code will be tied to an NFT and the files will be accessible to the buyer after the auction is complete. Included are each of the origins of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs). The code up for auction also contains the HTML documents that served as the original owner’s manual for the worldwide web. 

The winning bidder will also be sent a letter from Berners-Lee in which the inventor is “reflecting on the code and the process of creating it.” Additionally, the winner will receive a half-hour-long video, crafted by a graphic designer, that shows the code actually being written.

Rounding out the sale will be a digital poster that contains each of the 9,555 lines of code and Berners-Lee’s handwritten signature. 

The sale marks the first time in the last 40-odd years that Berners-Lee has been able to actually turn his invention into something personally profitable.

“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,” said Berners-Lee.

“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.


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