On June 23, 2021, Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s auction for an NFT of the source code for WWW (that thing you type in before a website name in the search bar) went live. A week later, on June 30, it closed, with the winning bidder having agreed to pay $5.43 million for their prized NFT.
However, that’s not all the winner is slated to receive. Beyond just the NFT, some additional goods are included in the lot. Here are the contents of the $5 million haul:
- Original archive of dated and time-stamped files containing the source code, written between 3 October 1990 and 24 August 1991
- Animated visualization of the code being written (Video, black & white, silent), lasting 30 minutes 25 seconds
- An Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) representation of the full code (A0 841mm wide by 1189 mm high), created by Sir Tim from the original files using Python, with a graphic representation of his physical signature at lower right
- A letter written in the README.md file (in “markdown” format) by Sir Tim in June of 2021, reflecting upon the code and his process of creating it
Whether that collection sounds worth a lump of money in the mid-seven-figures range is your call, but know that someone has eagerly shelled out the cash to own the digital rights to one of the biggest pieces of internet history.
As to why Sir Tim Berners-Lee opted for the NFT route over any other kind of auctioneering methodology, he told the Guardian, “this is totally aligned with the values of the web.” What he meant by this is left ambiguous. However, it could stand to reason he meant that a piece of internet history being sold exclusively over the internet utilizing new internet-based technologies is the point of the auction, as opposed to him just printing out the source code and mailing a framed picture of it to someone.