Auctioning the origin of life as we know it today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee to sell the Source Code for the World Wide Web as an NFT


The original files, straight from their creator, will be offered for auction by Sotheby’s

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee


June 15, 2021: Understanding the origin of World Wide Web is as thrilling as understanding the origin of the world, if not more. And for those who don’t know, British Computer Scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, in a moment that changed the world forever. This month, Sotheby’s will be auctioning the source code for the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s original time stamped files, signed by him, as an NFT, in what 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 himself. The sale will open from June 23-30, 2021, with bidding starting at $1,000. 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee autographed source code poster

Autographed poster of the Source Code of World Wide Web


Sir Tim said, “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.”

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.

Oliver Barker, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said, “The brainchild of one of the most important thinkers that the UK has ever produced, the web is a truly great British invention – one that has gone global in all senses of the word. As a company that itself took its first steps in London, and is now making its mark all over the world, we at Sotheby’s could not be more proud to be part of a celebration of this defining moment three decades on."

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