LONDON – British computer scientist and inventor Tim Berners-Lee is auctioning the original code for the World Wide Web as a non-fungible token.
The auction for the World Wide Web NFT, titled “This Changed Everything,” will be held by Sotheby’s in London from June 23-30, with a bid starting at $ 1,000. Proceeds from the auction will benefit initiatives that Berners-Lee and his wife support, Sotheby’s said.
NFTs are a type of digital asset designed to show that someone has ownership of a unique virtual item, such as online images and videos, or even sports trading cards.
The NFT includes original time-stamped files containing the source code written by Berners-Lee, an animated display of the code, a letter written by Berners-Lee about the code and its creation, and a digital “poster” of the complete code. All will be digitally signed by Berners-Lee.
It will be the first time that Berners-Lee has been able to financially capitalize on what is considered one of the greatest inventions of our time.
“Three decades ago, I created something that, with the subsequent help of a host of collaborators around the world, has been a powerful tool for humanity,” Berners-Lee said in a statement. “For me, the best thing about the web has been the spirit of collaboration. While I do not make predictions about the future, I sincerely hope that its use, knowledge and potential remain open and available so that we all continue to innovate, create and initiate the next technological transformation, which we cannot yet imagine.
He added: “NFTs, whether they be works of art or a digital artifact like this, are the latest playful creations in this field and the most appropriate proprietary medium out there. They are the ideal way to pack the origins behind the web ”.
Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s global director of science and popular culture, said in a statement that the “NFT format” will allow collectors to “own the ultimate digitally born artifact.”
In March, South Carolina-based graphic designer Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, sold an NFT for a record $ 69 million at a Christie’s auction. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, sold his first tweet as NFT for $ 2.9 million later that month.
On Thursday, a rare digital avatar known as CryptoPunk sold at Sotheby’s for more than $ 11.7 million. Total NFT sales reached $ 2 billion in the first quarter of this year, according to data from Nonfungible, a website that tracks the market.
But there are signs that the bubble could burst, with sales of digital collectibles falling dramatically in recent weeks. Total sales fell from a seven-day peak of $ 176 million on May 9 to just $ 8.7 million on June 15, according to Nonfungible figures. That means volumes are now roughly back to where they were in early 2021.
– Additional reporting from CNBC’s Ryan Browne.