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Tim Berners-Lee auctioning original World Wide Web source code as NFT

Credit: The Financial TImesCredit: The Financial TImes

The original source code for the World Wide Web is being auctioned off as a non-fungible token (NFT) by its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Sotheby's will run the auction, which has a starting bid of $1,000, from June 23 to June 30. Proceeds from the auction will benefit initiatives that Berners-Lee and his wife support, Sotheby's said.

Titled "This Changed Everything," the NFT auction will include original time-stamped files containing the web's source code, an animated visualization of the code, a letter penned by Bernes-Lee about the code's creation, and a digital "poster" of the full source code. All will be digitally signed by the inventor.

"For me, the best bit about the web has been the spirit of collaboration. While I do not make predictions about the future, I sincerely hope its use, knowledge and potential will remain open and available to us all to continue to innovate, create and initiate the next technological transformation, that we cannot yet imagine," said Berners-Lee in a statement.

NFTs, which have exploded in popularity in recent months, are a way to record ownership of a digital asset using blockchain technology. Back in March, an NFT from artist Mike Winkelmann, known as "Beeple," fetched $69.3 million on the auction block.

"NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artefact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists. They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the web," Berners-Lee said.

Berners-Lee conceived and wrote the code for the world wide web and the first browser between 1989 and 1991. He never patented the code, and instead released it into the public domain. That code built the foundation for the internet as we know it today.

"Sir Tim's invention created a new world, democratizing the sharing of information, creating new ways of thinking and interacting, and staying connected to one another," said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby's head of science and popular culture. "Over the past several centuries humankind has seen a succession of paradigm shifts that have brought us forward into the modern era ... but none has had the seismic impact on our daily lives as the creation of the World Wide Web."

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