The “father” of the World Wide Web, or briefly Web, British Sir Tim Berners-Lee, sold the primary source code of WWW for $5.43 million at “Sotheby’s” auction. The proceeds will be donated by him and his wife for charitable purposes.
The source code was auctioned in the form of a “Non-Fungible Token (NFT)” —i.e. a digital intellectual property certificate for things that often have no physical substance— which is stored in the international digital “registration” of the “blockchain”.
The auction, which lasted a week and “pulled” 51 bids, started with only 1,000 euros, while the winner-buyer remained anonymous.
Four different things are contained in the “NFT” that was sold, according to the BBC, the New York Times and Reuters:
- Time-stamped source code files (9,555 lines of code),
- a 30-minute cartoon video on how to write the code,
- a digital letter written in June this year by Berners-Lee and
- a digital poster of the code created by him.
Sir Tim created the WWW at CERN in 1989, linking different information from the early Internet with hyperlinks. He created the first web browser and refused to patent his invention. In 1993 CERN granted all rights to the new technology for free use.
As Berners-Lee explained about the auction:
“I don’t sell the Web, I don’t even sell the source code, I just sell an image of it that I had done, with a Python program that I built myself, and which shows what the source code would look like if it was stuck to the wall and signed by me.”
“Sotheby’s” described the auctioned item as:
“the only signed copy of the code for the first web browser ever”.
“Symbolism, history, the fact that they come from their creator, is what makes some things valuable, and there are many people who collect objects precisely for these reasons. We couldn’t have sold that ten years ago, but now the “NFT” allows us to do it. Previously in the history of science there were manuscripts you could hold in your hand. As we progress, more and more such manuscripts are now being created in digital form”,
said Cassandra Hutton, vice-president of the British auction house, who clarified that the auction of the code:
“does not represent any ownership of the World Wide Web”.
Berners-Lee, who created the “NFT” in partnership with “Sotheby’s”, did better than Twitter boss Jack Dorsey, who had sold the first “tweet” at auction (also in the form of an “NFT” certificate) for $2.9 million.
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