Web creator to sell original source code as an NFT

The creator of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, is selling the original code used to create the modern internet as an NFT.

The single non-fungible token will actually consist of four items - time-stamped files of the original source code, an animated visualisation, a letter from Berners-Lee and a poster of the code. It will be auctioned at Sotheby's for an unnamed charitable cause, according to the BBC.

There has been some surprise at the decision, given that Berners-Lee famously refused to patent his invention, but it is further indication of a growing trend for selling 'things' as NFTs. These are digital tokens, a type of cryptocurrency, that's somewhat similar to Bitcoin besides the fact that each token is unique.

These 'one-of-a-kind' assets have taken the art world by storm, with use cases for albums, paintings, poetry and even just 'ideas'. In regards to the web, the files represent nearly 10,000 lines of written code with its value based on its historical significance and creators authentication. As such, Sotheby's is advertising the collection as "the only signed copy of the code for the first web browser in existence".

"Why an NFT? Well, it's a natural thing to do as when you're a computer scientist and when you write code and have been for many years," Berners-Lee said, according to the BBC. "It feels right to digitally sign my autograph on a completely digital artefact."

Berners-Lee has been thoroughly praised for never having sought profit for his invention, keeping it open source and free for all and his decision to auction it as a charitable NFT is likely to raise a hefty sum of money.

However, NFTs are somewhat controversial due to their environmental impact with the carbon footprint of a single Ethereum transaction said to be more than 14 times that of putting a physical work of art through the post.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.