Internet’s original source code sells for $5.4 m

Debangana Ghosh Mumbai | Updated on July 02, 2021

World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee   -  REUTERS

Sotheby’s auctions WWW’s start point offered by inventor Tim Berners-Lee

Abstract digital items are beginning to command as much value as physical collectibles. On Wednesday, a non-fungible token (NFT) representing the original source code of the world wide web fetched $5.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction. Offered by inventor Tim Berners-Lee, the proceeds will be given to initiatives that he and his wife support.

An NFT — like other unique physical collectibles — can have only one official owner at a time. It is secured through Ethereum blockchain ensuring the record of ownership can’t be modified or copied to create a new NFT.

51 bids

There was a fair bit of drama at the auction, which started on June 23. The first bid was just $1,000. But eventually there were 51 bids – and significantly, 60 per cent of the bidders were new to Sotheby’s, according to the New York-based auction house. Is the price tag justified for an obsolete set of codes?

“This is a very unique case, given that there is a lot of emotional symbolism connected with this NFT,” said Vishakha Singh, VP, NFT marketplace, Wazir X. She pointed out that there was value in this, as it is the first building block of the Internet.

“NFTs are interesting because of their uniqueness and ownership. These are valuable assets like collectibles; the history and symbolism has immense value which makes them precious. Hence, the price is justified,” said Ramalingam Subramanian, CMO, CoinDCX.

Original code

The original source code was created by Berners-Lee in 1989 — the world wide web then enabled users to access, create and navigate links between files across a network of computers.

But this is not the first, nor the most confounding sale of a digital token. In March, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet as an NFT was auctioned for $2.9 million. In the same month, auction house Christie’s sold American digital artist Beeple’s digital collage for $69.3 million.

Published on July 01, 2021

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