Someone actually paid $5.43M for Tim Berners-Lee's NFT of the internet's origin story

Sir Tim Berners-Lee at Web Summit 2018
(Image credit: Getty / NurPhoto)

It's hard not to feel like Sir Tim Berners-Lee is just cashing in on the hype around the ecologically unsound NFT shiz, but it's absolutely worked, to the tune of some $5,434,500. 

His NFT file packet has been sold at historic auction house, Sotheby's, for a frankly offensive sum of money. The owner of some digitally signed representations of the basis for the intermawebs has not been named, but apparently half of the bidders were new to Sotheby's.

As the effective founder of the internet there is definitely a case to be made for Sir Bernster making some bank off the back of those 9,555 lines of code.

I mean, when his net worth is apparently some $10M that's just peanuts compared with the likes of Larry Page ($112B) and Sergey Brin ($109B) who kinda just took his idea and made an index. So I don't necessarily begrudge him levelling up his bank account by some 54%.

But still, wrapping his digitally signed file package—including a poster of the source code, an animated visualisation of it, the actual code itself, and a letter from Sir Timbo—into an NFT is what has gotten peoples' collective backs up.

If you're not familiar with the whole non-fungible token (NFT) thing then it's basically touted as a way for artists to ensure unique ownership of a digital asset. Which would be all well and good if it was just that simple, but there have been many cases of people misappropriating other peoples' work, wrapping it up as an NFT, and effectively stealing it officially and in perpetuity.

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The primary reason why we're so down on NFTs, however, is their use of blockchain technology to secure them. That's the same planet-destroying technology powering cryptocurrencies, which consumes so much power, and produces nothing actually worthwhile for all the damage it causes.

And has swallowed up a fair few gaming GPUs over its time too. 

But I guess it could be seen as kind of hypocritical of us PC gamers to be too aggressively down on the blockchain when a power-hungry desktop rig isn't exactly ecologically sound itself...

Anyway, Sir TBL is a big fan, claiming it as "totally aligned with the values of the web." Though I'm not sure he's really referring to the ecological impact of the wider Ethereum network that's often used to mint NFTs.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.