Arguably, one of the greatest inventions of our time is the internet. And now, NFT enthusiasts will be able to bid on the original source code, as written by Tim Berners-Lee, in an upcoming Sotheby’s auction of an exclusive NFT.

Buying the Internet? 

The news of the internet’s source code being sold as an NFT (non-fungible token) sparked some confusion, so let’s clarify - buying the NFT does not mean the owner will become the owner of the internet! Instead, they’ll become the owner of a historical, digitally-preserved copy (poster) of the code signed by Berners-Lee, an animation of the code being written in Python and a personal letter. This type of item will no doubt draw interest from collectors beyond the spectrum of arts, music or trading cards, as has been the case for most NFTs sales to date. 

Unlike the founders of internet giants such as Facebook, Google or Amazon, Tim Berners-Lee hasn’t reached billionaire status from his innovative invention! In fact, his creation of the source code behind the world wide web and its first browser was never patented but rather released into the public domain by Cern, the company he worked for at the time, for free. 

It’s believed that proceeds from the NFT sale will go towards initiatives that he and his wife, Rosemary Leith, support, although the details of the initiatives remain unknown. 


Sotheby’s Manage Auction for Internet NFT 

The auction, being managed by the acclaimed Sotheby’s, opened on Wednesday 23 June 2021 and is expected to run for a week. The company haven’t disclosed the value they expect the lot to fetch, claiming, “the token is a unique object unlike anything sold before”. 

Sotheby’s continue to make a name for themselves in the NFT auction market, with recent sales including a $17 million sale of artwork from the digital artist, Pak, and the latest  - a listing for a physical Picasso painting currently up for bidding



These days, Tim works on a project called Solid, designed to decentralise the web and give individuals back control of their own personal data

“Solid and the blockchain both attract people who want sovereign identity, sovereign power as a person. When you get a Solid pod, you can share it with anybody else in the world without asking anybody else, without going through any central authority. And on a blockchain, if you get your name on a blockchain, you can use that as a sovereign identity.” - Tim Berners-Lee


While he acknowledges the NFT as his first project involving cryptocurrency, Berners-Lee recognises the power it holds - not only as currency - but for individual sovereignty. And as you may know, that’s a concept at the heart of what we, as a business, are out to achieve too! 

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