The Original Files for the Source Code of the World Wide Web Sell as an NFT

Offered directly by Sir Tim Berners-Lee himself

This is the first historical artefact relating to the creation of the web to ever come to sale

30 June 2021: Today, in a standalone auction for one of the most historically significant digital artefacts to ever be sold, an NFT of the source code for the World Wide Web brought $5.4 million. Bidding opened on the 23rd June at just $1,000 and over the course of the sale, the NFT attracted a total of 51 bids, with 60% of the bidders new to Sotheby’s. Offered directly by Sir Tim Berners-Lee himself, proceeds from the sale will benefit initiatives that Sir Tim and Lady Berners-Lee support.

“The process of bringing this NFT to auction has offered me the opportunity to look back in time to the moment I first sat down to write this code thirty years ago, and reflect on how far the web has come since then, and where it could go in the decades to come. I am thrilled that the initiatives Rosemary and I support will benefit from the sale of this NFT. I want to thank everyone that has worked on this project at Sotheby's and the Crypto Community for your help and support.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

“This unique auction marked the first time a digital-born artefact has ever been offered for sale at Sotheby’s, and this has to be the ultimate example of its kind – one minted by Sir Tim himself, a legend in the digital realm and far beyond, that relates to the most important invention of our era. The huge reception we have in response to the auction is a fitting tribute to the genius of a man who changed our world forever.”

Cassandra Hatton, VP, Global Head of Science & Popular Culture at Sotheby’s

“While the source code to the web itself is a digital artefact that has existed since 1990, it is not until the emergence of NFTs that something like this could ever have been harnessed for sale. It has been such an exciting journey for Sotheby’s to play a role in this landmark moment from start to finish, and to have opened a window into the astonishing world of Sir Tim Berners-Lee.”

Oliver Barker, Chairman Sotheby’s Europe


The NFT sold today is completely unique on the Ethereum blockchain and is composed of four elements; the original time-stamped files containing the source code written by Sir Tim; an animated visualization of the code; a letter written by Sir Tim reflecting on the code and the process of creating it ; as well as a digital “poster” of the full code created by Sir Tim from the original files using Python including a graphic of his physical signature; all digitally signed.

The files referenced by the NFT contain code with approximately 9,555 lines, whose contents include implementations of the three languages and protocols invented by Sir Tim that remain fundamental to the World Wide Web today; HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers), as well as original HTML documents that instructed early web users on how to use the application.

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