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An NFT of the World Wide Web source code sold for $5.4 million in a Sotheby’s auction

The proceeds will go to initiatives supported by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his wife, Rosemary.

tim berners-lee nft
Image: Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, we heard about a new NFT that came in the form of the original source code for the World Wide Web from Sir Tim Berners-Lee. That NFT was auctioned at a Sotheby’s auction with a starting bid of $1,000 just over a week ago. Earlier this week, it sold for a whopping $5.4 million.

Berners-Lee developed the original source code for the World Wide Web more than 30 years ago. He never profited from this invention, instead opting to distribute the platform for free to help create the internet as we know it.

And he’s still not directly profiting, even after this massive sale. In the announcement of the sale, Sotheby’s said that proceeds from the sale will go to initiatives that Berners-Lee and his wife, Rosemary, support. Berners-Lee had this to say in a statement about the sale:

“The process of bringing this NFT to auction has offered me the opportunity to look back in time to the moment I first sat down to write this code 30 years ago, and reflect on how far the web has come since then, and where it could go in the decades to come. I am thrilled that the initiatives Rosemary and I support will benefit from the sale of this NFT.”

By now, most of us have heard of NFTs. An NFT is a sort of collectible cryptocurrency tied to a blockchain like Ethereum. Each NFT is one of a kind, and once you’ve purchased it, it is yours. NFTs can take the form of videos, images, or other forms of art.

This particular NFT consisted of four parts: “original time-stamped files containing the source code written by Sir Tim; an animated visualization of the code; a letter written by Sir Tim reflecting on the code and the process of creating it; as well as a digital ‘poster’ of the full code created by Sir Tim from the original files using Python including a graphic of his physical signature.”

$5.4 million is a lot of money for any kind of artwork, but it barely scrapes the surface of the largest NFT sale ever, a $69 million collection of artwork from artist Beeple. Still, this is a massive sale for something that is ultimately a unique piece of very significant history.

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