Web Inventor Auctions Source Code as NFT

Tim Berners-Lee at the Science Museum for the Web@30 event, March 2019.
(Image credit: Jwslubbock Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

The inventor of the World Wide Web, sir Tim Berners-Lee is auctioning off his original code as an NFT. As reported by BBC News, this will allow any budding internet historians or crypto investors the chance to own a genuine piece of tech history.

This NeXT workstation (a NeXTcube, monitor Cern 57503) was used by Tim Berners-Lee as the first Web server on the World Wide Web

(Image credit: Coolcaesar, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist who was working at CERN in Switzerland in 1989, coded the first web browser and web server on a NeXTcube. It was released to the public in 1991. Berners-Lee never tried to make money from his creation, refusing to patent it, CERN put the rights to the technology into the public domain in 1993.

The historically significant code, all 10,000 lines of it, is being sold by Sotheby’s in four lots, which include "the original time-stamped files" of the first web browser’s source code, "an animated visualisation" of that code, a letter from Sir Tim about the process, and a "digital poster" of the code created by him. 

“Why an NFT? Well, it's a natural thing to do when you're a computer scientist and when you write code and have been for many years," said Sir Tim in press material issued by Sotheby's auction house. "They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web."

The NFT for a digital-only artwork by Beeple sold for $69 million in March this year. The blockchain-based tokens, which imply ownership but not necessarily copyright, have become controversial due to their environmental impact. Sotheby’s claims the “carbon footprint of this NFT is negligible" because it will pay for a carbon offset for the minting and transaction costs of the sale. 

Should you wish to own a piece of internet history, the auction will run from June 23-30, with an opening bid of $1,000. Sotheby's state that any money made will be put towards causes chosen by Berners-Lee and his wife.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.

  • Nestea_Zen
    kinda cringe but I get it. get that money.

    "Sotheby's state that any money made will be put towards causes chosen by Berners-Lee and his wife. "