Tim Berners-Lee sells his World Wide Web source code for $5.4 million

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And of course the code was sold in NFT form for cryptocurrency.

Tim Berners-Lee, The creator of the World Wide Web, has sold his source code from the early 90s. The sales price was just over $5.4 million.

The code was sold as an NFT (Non Fungible Token) called “Source Code for the WWW (1990-1991)”. It was paid for in cryptocurrency through Sothebys auction house.

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a kind of crypto asset that records ownership of digital items. NFTs are popular in the creative world, with artwork, music and internet memes selling for millions of dollars.

The sale comprises a blockchain-based record of ownership of files containing the original source code for the world wide web. The final price was $5,434,500 and half of the bidders were new to Sotheby’s.

What’s included in the package

The work includes an original archive of dated and time-stamped files containing the source code. Berners-Lee wrote the code between 3 October 1990 and 24 August 1991. The files contain code with approximately 9,555 lines. They contain implementations of the three languages and protocols invented by Berners-Lee; HTML, HTTP, and URIs. They also include the original HTML documents that instructed early web users on how to use the application.

The lucky owner now has a 30 minutes 25 seconds animated visualisation of the code being written. There is also an SVG representation of the full code. This image is 841mm wide by 1,189mm high. It was created by Berners-Lee from the original files using Python, with a graphic representation of his physical signature.

In addition, the owner also has a letter Berners-Lee wrote earlier this year. “As people seemed to appreciate autographed versions of books,” it begins, “now we have NFT technology.”

“I thought it could be fun to make an autographed copy of the original code of the first web browser,” he adds.

“This NFT is historic and singular, but, the code for the web and its use, knowledge, power, potential will remain open and available to us all to continue to innovate, create and initiate the next technological transformation that will be built upon what we see today, that we cannot yet imagine,” the Sothebys catalogue note says.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward causes picked by Berners-Lee and his wife.