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Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales puts computer and NFT up for auction at Christie's

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A Strawberry iMac owned by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is displayed during a press preview before the upcoming Christie's Luxury Week auction, in New York on December 3, 202
A Strawberry iMac owned by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is displayed during a press preview before the upcoming Christie's Luxury Week auction, in New York on December 3, 202   -   Copyright  KENA BETANCUR/AFP or licensors
By Julie Gaubert  with AFP

Who wants to own a piece of Internet history?

The personal computer used by Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales when he launched the site 20 years ago, is being auctioned by Christie's alongside a non-fungible token, or NFT, of the front page of the popular site.

Presented at the auction house’s New York headquarters in Rockefeller Center, the computer is a Strawberry iMac, "his personal computer, which he used for development and research at the time of the site's launch on January 15, 2001," the company said in a statement.

The second lot is an NFT "created by Jimmy Wales and which recreates what Wikipedia looked like when he set it up and launched its first page, with the words +Hello world+," Peter Klarnet, a specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie's, told AFP.

“I think he [Wales] has just been inspired by what he's seeing going on in this whole NFT space, and very much it reminds him of the early days of the open-source movement that created Wikipedia,” Klarnet said.

“Now we're seeing digital autonomous organisations on the rise and that very much reminds him of the collective effort that has created and has maintained Wikipedia.”

The NFT, presented in a JPEG format, will be interactive, with the buyer able to edit the page, "which can be reset with a timer to revert to its original state," Christie's said.

AFP
NFT "very much reminds him of the early days of the open-source movement that created Wikipedia," Peter Klarnet, a specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie's, said.AFP

Who wants to buy a Wikipedia NFT?

Launched several years ago, NFTs have made their mark in 2021 with the term even being named "word of the year" by the Collins dictionary.

In March, Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey auctioned off the very first tweet, "I just created my twttr account," for $2.9 million as an NFT.

Like the tweet, the sale of the first edition of Wikipedia is expected to fetch "hundreds of thousands of dollars" according to Klarnet.

Some of the proceeds from the sales will help fund Wales's WT Social project, a "non-toxic alternative" social media network that uses an advertising-free model.

KENA BETANCUR/AFP
A Strawberry iMac owned by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is displayed during a press preview before the upcoming Christie's Luxury Week auction, New York, December 3, 2021.KENA BETANCUR/AFP

According to Christie’s, looking back on how much Wikipedia has grown in 20 years, Wales said he sees the site as the realisation of many of the ideals of early internet pioneers.

‘When most people first saw the internet they didn't think: “Great, I can get dog food delivered to my house!” They thought: “Wow, this is amazing, human minds can connect all around the world. We can get information, we can share our knowledge,” said Klarnet.

“And Wikipedia is really all about that. It is still realising that dream, if not perfectly — we're not finished yet and we've got a lot of work to do. But for many people, I think that was the original passion and hope for the internet”.

Video editor • Julie Gaubert