A non-fungible token (NFT) representing the original source code for the World Wide Web sold for $5.4 million at Sotheby’s in an online auction on Wednesday, as Reuters reported. Tim Berners-Lee, who wrote the code back in 1989, also known as the “Father of the Web,” plans to donate the money to charity.
Sotheby’s organized in New York the weeklong sale of the program that had made possible the internet as we know it today.
The lot included 10,000 lines of the source code, original manual web pages, animated visualization of the code, a letter written by by the author Tim Berners-Lee on the code and its significance, and a digital “poster” built with Python.
As said by Cassandra Hatton, the vice-president and global head of science and popular culture at Sotheby’s, this work is unique because of its contribution to the creation of the World Wide Web.
“That changed every aspect of your life,” she said. “We don’t even fully comprehend the impact that it has on our lives, and the impact that we will continue to have on our lives.”
Hatton also pointed to the importance of the recent boom in NFTs: “Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Hatton said.
“The symbolism, the history, the fact that they’re coming from the creator is what makes them valuable – and there are lots of people who collect things for exactly those reasons,” she added.
“We have placed it in a public forum, we have sold it at basically no reserve (the bidding started at $1,000) and we let the market decide what the value is going to be. There have been multiple bidders who have all agreed that it’s valuable.”
In 1989, CERN physicist and computer-scientist Berners-Lee represented a system of information sharing that would allow scientists to access data from anywhere in the world. He named the new network the World Wide Web (WWW). In 1990 and 1991, he made the program of the first internet browser, laying the foundation for the current internet.
Determined to make the web a free and open space, Berners-Lee did not patent his program but left it available to everyone, which aided its widespread. And now he has said plans to donate the money of the NFT sale to charitable causes.
Comparing to other NFTs, the WWW code’s price represents nearly twice the value of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet and ten times as much as the Disaster Girl meme but 1/12th of Beeple’s collection of 5,000 digital images.