Sotheby’s auction: Internet source code to be auctioned

Sotheby's auction: Internet source code to be auctioned

Status: 23.06.2021 at 12:35 PM.

It is practically the founding document of the World Wide Web: the 9550 lines of programming code that enabled the Internet to start. Now the original files of the inventor come under the hammer.

from Peter Muke,
ARD-Studio New York

“It changed everything” Sotheby’s has called the auction fairly unethical. Which, for once, shouldn’t be an exaggeration – because who would deny that the World Wide Web really changed almost everything. Even though its inventor Tim Berners-Lee may not have been aware of this when he presented his proposal for a system for exchanging information on March 12, 1989.

It started with CERN. happened in

At the time, British computer scientists were working at CERN, the European nuclear research center, and had problems with some parts of the laboratories being located in Swiss territory and others in French territory. Because the two countries had different network infrastructures, they developed a system that was supposed to facilitate the exchange of information across borders.

This basic programming code consists of 9550 lines and has since determined the basic structures of the Internet: the page description language (HTML) and the transfer protocol (HTTP) and the identifier URI. A revolution – not only for the scientific world for which the project was actually intended.

Invented the Internet code: British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee.

Build: Picture Alliance/DPA

digital collector’s item

Even though the code has long been “open source” – that is, freely accessible to all – it is now going under the hammer: original files, a digital poster with a time stamp and a signature of Berners-Lee Which visualizes the source code and a letter from the scientist from 1989 in which he describes his project.

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Everything is conveniently packaged in a so-called NFT – a “fungible token”. It is a kind of digital certificate of authenticity which is stored on the so called blockchain. It must prove that the virtual object is unique – regardless of how many digital copies exist. The collector’s item of the digital age, so to speak.

Minimum bid $1000

As a computer scientist, says Berners-Lee, it is only logical to auction off your invention, such as NFTs. It feels right to place your signature entirely under a digital artifact. The online auction lasts a week and starts with a minimum bid of $1000. The proceeds should go to a foundation.

Auction houses have long blocked the auction of such NFTs, they have been doing so for some time now. selling well with digital art. Recently, the auction of works by crypto artist Pak at Sotheby’s raised $17 million. At Christie’s, the NFTs of a collage by digital artist Beeple changed hands for just under $70 million.

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