Sir Tim Berners-Lee sells code for first web browser as NFT


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, one of the architects of the World Wide Web, sells the source code to the original web browser as NFT (via the BBC). The auction, run by Sotheby’s, will include not only the WorldWideWeb browser code, but also a letter from Berners-Lee himself, a vector file that can be printed as a poster, and a 30-minute silent video that encodes being entered. According to a Sotheby’s press release, the profits will be donated to causes supported by Berners-Lee and his wife.

The auctioned code contains elements of the web that many of us are familiar with today, including functions for parsing and viewing HTML documents, rudimentary styling support, the HTTP protocol, and even the ability to print. a Web page.

Berners-Lee seems to think NFTs are a natural fit for code – in the press release he says NFTs are “the latest playful creations.on the Internet and the perfect way to pack the origins behind the web. In an interview with Financial Time, he likens the NFT to an autographed book, which makes me imagine how cooler this project would be if it had instead auctioned the code on a signed box of magneto-optical discs that would have been used by the next computer he wrote it with.

The NFT purchaser may have difficulty running the very first version of WorldWideWeb. As Ars Technica points out, there is a very old copy of the source code available on the web today (which, according to Sotheby’s, is similar to the code sold in the NFT, but not to the original), and it seems difficult to compile according to CERN’s WorldWideWeb site. Even if the buyer was running the original browser, there are probably still few websites that would work well with them.

Arguably, the web as we know it was made possible by the fact that Berners-Lee decided not to patent or charge for the use of his idea, leaving anyone with the technical know-how (and computing resources) ) design your own website. So it’s easy to see why some would find the creation of an exclusive NFT to be a bit odd choice for Tim Berners-Lee, in addition to the environmental concerns surrounding the technology. According to Financial Time, this will be the first time he has directly benefited from his creation – although he says he will not keep that money himself.

If you want to see an approximation of Berners-Lee’s original browser, CERN has a replica which you can run right in your modern web browser (although accessing websites from it seems to be down for now). If you’re really looking to grab the NFT, Sotheby’s auction runs June 23-30, with auctions starting at $ 1,000.

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