At an auction hosted by Sotheby's on Wednesday, the source code for the World Wide Web, as penned by Tim Berners-Lee, was sold for US$5.4 million. The buyer acquired a non-fungible token (NFT) of 'Source Code for the WWW (1990-1991)' and made this a thoroughly modern tech tale by paying with cryptocurrency.
NFTs are increasingly common digital goods that use blockchain technology to verify ownership of any digital form image, video, music piece and so on. HEXUS reported on one of the most significant NFT sales in 2021, where a piece of digital art dubbed 'Everydays: The First 5,000 Days', by Mike Winkelmann (AKA Beeple), raised $69 million from a Christie's auction. Another notable digital good - an NFT of the first Tweet by Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey, sold for $2.9 million.
Back to today's story about the auctioning of the original WWW source code; and reports are that this NFT contains an original archive of dated and time-stamped files containing the source code, written between 3 October 1990 and 24 August 1991. This represents 9,555 lines of code for implementing HTML, HTTP, and URIs – as well as instructions/helps file (in HTML). Nice little extras for the buyer include a half hour video animation of the code being written and an SVG digital poster of the code (a single 841mm wide by 1,189mm high page) which includes Tim Berners-Lee's signature.
The 'Source Code for the WWW (1990-1991)' auction started on 23rd June at US$1,000 and the highest bid at the start of the final day stood at $3.5 million. A flurry of bids took it to $5.4 million in the last 15 minutes. Please be assured that, despite this sale, the "core codes and protocols on the web are royalty free, just as they always have been," Berners-Lee told The Guardian.