First-ever Wikipedia edit auctioned off as an NFT

Co-founder Jimmy Wales turned the site's first edit into an NFT and sold it for US$750,000
December 20, 2021 - Staff writer

Wikipedia's first entry were the words "Hello, World" by co-founder Jimmy Wales on January 15, 2001. Now the historic moment has been turned into an NFT art which the auction house, Christie's, sold for US$750,000.

 

The NFT was initially valued between US$100,000 and US$150,000 by Christie's, but the sale performed beyond all expectations. Peter Klarnet, a senior specialist at Christie's, claimed that the result "underscores the burgeoning interest in the history of the internet among collectors." 

 

The NFT was one of a pair of lots, called "The Birth of Wikipedia," that Christie's sold. The other object sold was a strawberry-coloured iMac that Wales used to create Wikipedia, and it went for US$187,500.

 

The source code to the site is also embedded into the NFT, and it gives the owner control over the site. The buyer/owner of the NFT – who remains unidentified – would be able to make edits to the page and even shut it down, or they can even have Wales manage it for them. 

 

Before the sale, Jimmy Wales had discussed the history of the site and the problems it faced at its early stage. "It was very, very academic, and it failed because it wasn't really any fun for volunteers -- it was too rigid," Wales said about the original plan before Wikipedia.

 

Although Wales could have sold control of the website through other means, he believed in the power of blockchain and the idea of publicly recorded and verifiable ownership, which is why he went the NFT route.

 

"I think what is specifically interesting is that for the first time, we have a publicly distributed, immutable kind of database, and that's new and different," Wales said.

 

Jimmy Wales believes in NFTs as a way for digital artists to make some money. He also believes the current state of cryptocurrency is similar to the dot-com boom and bust of the 1990s and 2000s. "We're still very, very far from mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies," Wales said.

 

Part of the money from the NFT sale would be used to fund Wales' social media project, WT. Social, while some parts would also go to charity.

 

Photo: Christie's

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