Cover Photo: Sotheby’s

The online auction will take place from June 23 to June 30 and will begin at US$1,000

In 1989, British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee changed the entire world with the invention of the World Wide Web. Now, years later, Sotheby’s has announced that they will be auctioning off the source code for the World Wide Web as a non-fungible token (NFT) in what will be Sotheby's first digital-born artefact to be auctioned off.

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The NFT will be put up in a standalone online auction this month from June 23 to June 30 and will be titled, This Changed Everything.

The bidding will begin at US$1,000 and will contain four elements. It will have the original time-stamped files containing the source code, animated visualisations of the code, a digital poster that was created using the original Python files of the code, and a letter from Lee as he reflects on his work.

The money earned will benefit initiatives that Sir Tim and Lady Berners-Lee support.

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“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,” said Lee.

The files in Lee's NFT contain code that has approximately 9,555 lines and contains the building blocks of three languages and protocols that continue to remain integral to the World Wide Web today. Essentially, Lee is giving people the opportunity to look at the bare bones of the web's creation.

This includes HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). It also has the original HTML documents that instructed early web users on how they should use the application.

The auction, which will be taking place over a week, looks set to bring in millions for this iconic code that literally changed everything.

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