code
The code, written by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, sold for $5.4m at Sotheby's in an online auction on Wednesday.
Jane Imrie

World Wide Web source code NFT sold in multi-million dollar deal

A blockchain-based token representing the original source code for the World Wide Web has been sold in a multi-million dollar deal.

The code, written by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, sold for $5.4m at Sotheby’s in an online auction on Wednesday.

Sotheby’s described the lot as “the only signed copy of the code for the first web browser in existence”, comparing its sale to that of the handwritten documents of a historic figure.

Included in the sale were NFTs representing around 9,555 lines of code written in 1990 and 1991 as well as a 30-minute animated visualisation of the code, a digital poster, and a digital letter reflecting on the invention written by Berners-Lee in June 2021.

Cassandra Hatton, global head of science and popular culture at Sotheby’s, commented: “The symbolism, the history, the fact that they’re coming from the creator is what makes them valuable — and there are lots of people who collect things for exactly those reasons.

“We have placed it in a public forum, we have sold it at basically no reserve (the bidding started at $1,000) and we let the market decide what the value is going to be. There have been multiple bidders who have all agreed that it’s valuable.”

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