Sir Tim Berners-Lee's first NFT sold for $5.4 Million on Wednesday. The winning bidder now has ownership of the original World Wide Web (WWW) source code.
What is an NFT?
Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are digital assets that show ownership for a particular virtual item.
Digital tokens can be fungible or non-fungible. Bitcoin tokens are fungible because when you trade Bitcoin for another Bitcoin, you still have Bitcoin. But with NFTs, you sell your Joe Exotic NFT for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's First Tweet NFT, then you get an entirely new NFT.
The unique NFT is composed of 4 elements: the original, time-stamped code files written by Sir Tim; an animated visualization of the code; a digital “poster” of the full code created by Sir Tim; and a letter written by Sir Tim reflecting on the code today. (2/4)— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) June 15, 2021
The name of the game here is "ownership." Yes, anyone can download the digital file for free, but buying the NFT gives the owner the right to claim that they own that digital asset.
It is similar to physical paintings. Art collectors own the physical painting when the artist sells it, but the artist can still retain copyrights and production rights to sell prints of the work.
The Ethereum blockchain is the most popular way to keep the data secure and for NFTs to be exchanged.
The World Wide Web Source Code NFT
The WWW source code NFT was offered up for auction by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web. He likens his NFT to an autographed booked.
Berners-Lee explained that selling the NFT is aligned with the values of the web, he told The Guardian, and that he is selling a picture that he "made with a Python program I wrote myself, of what the source code would look like if it was stuck on the wall and signed by me."
Berners-Lee and his wife stated that the proceeds of the auctions will benefit the causes they support, says The Verge.
#AuctionUpdate One of the most historically significant digital artefacts ever sold, an NFT of the source code for the Web has brought $5.4 million. Offered by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, proceeds will benefit initiatives that Sir Tim & Lady Berners-Lee support.#ThisChangedEverything— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) June 30, 2021
The WWW Source Code NFT Auction
The auction event was titled "This Changed Everything" and Sotheby's London was the host of the online event.
The institution decided to place the NFT auction in a public forum, selling it at "basically no reserve" with the bidding starting at $1,000. This was to allow the market to decide what the value was going to be, Cassandra Hatton, the global head of science and popular culture at Sotheby's told The Guardian.
And the market decided that the NFT was worth $5,434,500, The Verge reports.
Included in the NFT is the original archive of dated and time-stamped files containing the source code which was written between October 3, 1990, and August 24, 1991.
Animated visualization of the 9,555 lines of code being written is also included. The video is 30 minutes and 25 seconds long, is black and white and has no audio.
The winner of the auction also gets a Scalable Vector Graphics or SVG representation of the full code created by Sir Time Berners-Lee from the original files using Python. A graphic representation of his physical signature is affixed at the lower right.
Lastly, a letter was written in the README.md file by Berners-Lee in June of 2021 reflecting upon the code and his process of creating it is included in the whole file bundle.
Berners-Lee begins his letter with: "As people seemed to appreciate autographed versions of books, now we have NFT technology, I thought it could be fun to make an autographed copy of the original code of the first web browser."
Sotheby's also made the fitting decision to accept cryptocurrency as a mode of payment for the auction. According to The Guardian, the auction house has embraced the movement of blockchain-based assets, which exploded in popularity earlier this year.
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