The inventor of the Internet has sold its original source code for a whopping $5.4 million, through an NFT sale conducted by Sotheby’s. The sale, which started on June 23 for $1000, ended last night. It includes the digitally signed versions of the original source code of the world wide web, a digital poster created from the original Python files of the code, a letter from Lee reflecting on the code and an animated visualisation of the code. The files that were referenced in the NFT were used to build three essential languages of the Internet — HTML, HTTP and URI.
“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,” Lee had said on June 23. “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,” he added.
While NFT sales have fetched larger amounts in the past, this sale marks perhaps the most consequential support of NFTs so far. Lee, like many others, has advocated for the Internet to remain free and to be made an essential tool. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and billionaire Elon Musk have also supported NFTs in the past. The Sotheby’s auction included approximately 9555 lines of code, and will provide insight into what went into creating one of the modern world’s biggest innovations.
Lee’s sale wasn’t the only noteworthy NFT sale this week though. Fellow auction house, Christie’s announced that it had sold digital artworks by transgender artist FEWOCiOUS for $2.8 million on June 24. The artist, whose real name is Victor Langlois, has sold artworks worth $18 million through NFT auctions so far. The latest sale includes a combination of digital works and physical paintings.