This article was updated on December 15, 2021
Christie's partnered with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to sell two artifacts of internet history, earning a combined $937,500 in the process.
Dubbed The Birth of Wikipedia, the auction is comprised of two lots. The first is an old-school, strawberry-colored iMac that Wales used in Wikipedia's fledging years. The webmaster wielded said machine to monitor the online encyclopedia for vandalism, as well as to conduct research for its development.
The second is an NFT of Wikipedia's very first edit, made by Wales on January 15, 2001, the day of the website's launch. It reads: "Hello, World!"
Considering Wikipedia's immeasurable influence on the open knowledge movement, it's safe to say that both artifacts will generate impressive bids.
"Wikipedia was founded on a vision to give free access to knowledge on a global scale, and I want to use whatever funds we raise to continue supporting efforts in the free culture world," Wales tells Highsnobiety.
Wales also specified that the money will go to charities and his latest project, WT.Social — "a decentralized, non-commercial social network free of advertising, tracking, information harvesting, and misinformation."
The auction marks Wikipedia's first foray into NFTs, a market the site has skirted until now — surprising, given that both phenomenons rely on a decentralized system.
Wales acknowledges that there are "a lot" of parallels between the advent of NFTs and the early days of the dot-com boom.
"When new, disruptive technologies with huge potential for change enter the market, there is a lot of excitement, and both good and bad ideas are thrown around," he explains. "I’m particularly interested in seeing how NFTs can positively impact artists and creators and give them opportunities to take ownership of their work while still sharing freely."
The Birth of Wikipedia launched on December 3 at Christie's website and ran through December 15, with the NFT garnering $750k and the computer achieving $187.5k.