Files referenced by the NFT contain approximately 9,500 lines of code, including implementations of the three languages and protocols invented by Berners-Lee that remain fundamental to the Web today: HTML, HTTP and URLs (Image: Shutterstock)
Tim Berners-Lee sold the source code for the World Wide Web for $5.4 million in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT). An NFT is a digital object such as a drawing, animation, piece of music, photo or video with a certificate of authenticity created by blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrency.
Sotheby's in New York organized the weeklong sale of the program that paved the way for the internet over 30 years after its creation.
Explained: After Bitcoin and other cryptos, now comes NFT
The lot on sale included the original, time-stamped code files written by Berners-Lee; an animated visualization of the code; a digital poster of the full code created by him; and a letter written by the British-born computer scientist himself.
The auction began on 23 June, with an opening bid of $1,000.
In 1989, physicist-turned-computer-scientist Berners-Lee envisioned a system of information sharing that would allow scientists to access data from anywhere in the world.
At the time, he was an employee of the CERN Data Center -- originally the European Council for Nuclear Research, now the European Organization for Nuclear Research -- in Geneva. He named the new network the World Wide Web (WWW).
Also read: Iconic 'Doge' meme becomes most expensive meme NFT ever sold at $4 million
In 1990 and 1991, he wrote the program that created the first internet browser, laying the practical foundations for the current web.
In the process, he also invented the URL -- internet address--, HTTP -- which allows users to find a site -- and HTML -- the standard coding language for creating websites.
Determined to make the web an open space, Berners-Lee did not patent his program but left it freely available to everyone, which contributed to its spread.
A little more than three decades after its invention, Berners-Lee put the original program files up for sale as a collector's item.
At the end of the auction, he will receive part of the sale profit, but he intends to donate all of his proceeds to charity, as per an AFP report.
NFTs currently generate several hundred million dollars in transactions every month. NFTs cannot be forged or otherwise manipulated.
NFT exchanges take place in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin on specialist sites, but traditional auction houses are seeking to capitalize on the phenomenon.(With inputs from AFP)