Update: 01/07/2021: Tim Berners-Lee’s non-fungible-token, or NFT, has sold for $5.4 million with fees. Sotheby’s said it was accepting payment in cryptocurrency for both the hammer price and its buyer fee. Sir Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web is to auctions his original source code as an NFT. The files, straight from their Creator, will be Offered by Sotheby’s LONDON, 15 June 2021 – In 1989. The British Computer Scientist invented the www in a moment that changed the world forever. Berners-Lee’s original time-stamped files, signed by him, and in the form of an NFT will be Sotheby’s first digital-born artefact to come to auction. The NFT will be offered in a standalone online auction titled ‘This Changed Everything’. It is the first historical artefact relating to this landmark moment ever to be sold, offered directly by Sir Tim Berners-Lee himself, giving people the opportunity to reflect with Sir Tim on the bare bones of the architecture of the web’s creation. The sale will open from 23 – 30 June, with bidding starting at $1,000. The sale will benefit initiatives that Sir Tim and Lady Berners-Lee support.
It feels right to digitally sign my autograph on a completely digital artefact.” – Tim Berners-Lee
The NFT – completely unique on the Ethereum blockchain – is composed of four elements; the 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; all digitally signed. The files referenced by the NFT contain code with approximately 9,555 lines, whose contents include implementations of the three languages and protocols invented by Sir Tim that remain fundamental to the World Wide Web today; HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers), as well as original HTML documents that instructed early web users on how to use the application.
“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. 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. NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artefact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists. They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web.”
“Over the past several centuries humankind has seen a succession of paradigm shifts that have brought us forward into the modern era; Galileo’s proof of Heliocentricity, Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to name but a few, but none has had the seismic impact on our daily lives as the creation of the World Wide Web. Sir Tim’s invention created a new world, democratizing the sharing of information, creating new ways of thinking and interacting, and staying connected to one another; it is hard to imagine our world without it, and even harder to imagine where it will bring us next. This unique and singular auction will celebrate Sir Tim’s groundbreaking achievement, in which collectors will finally have the opportunity, thanks to the NFT format, to own the ultimate digitally-born artefact.” – TBL
One of the greatest innovators of the modern age, Sir Tim Berners-Lee grew up in a household of mathematicians and computer scientists – his parents working on the Ferranti Mark 1, the world’s first commercially available general-purpose digital computer. Running through this upbringing was the idea that what you can do with the computers is limited only by your imagination. In his own words, Sir Tim “picked that up and built a computer as quick as I could afford to, out of my pocket money.” Once he had graduated from Oxford University, he was involved in a rich variety of technical projects, during which there slowly formed the dream of a common information space in which everyone could communicate. This idea resulted in the creation of the first web browser and the first website. Sir Tim’s subsequent work to ensure the free use of the World Wide Web on a global scale is one of the greatest acts of philanthropy in recent history.
The “WorldWideWeb” application, was the first hypermedia browser, allowing users to create and navigate links between files across a network of computers. It was written in the Objective C programming language, using the Interface
“Why an NFT? Well, it’s a natural thing to do as when you’re a computer scientist and when you write code and have been for many years. It feels right to digitally sign my autograph on a completely digital artefact.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Top Photo Courtesy Sotheby’s