KEY POINTS

  • The NFT is build on Ethereum blockchain
  • Strawberry iMac used by the Wales will also be available for auction
  • Wales compares crypto craze to dot.com bubble

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, jumped into the NFT bandwagon by releasing a very primitive version of the online encyclopedia as a non-fungible token. The auction of the NFT started at Christie's last week. 

The sale will also feature the Strawberry iMac personal computer Wales was using during the development and research at the time of the website's launch in 2001. The proceeds from the sale will be forwarded to charitable causes and WT.Social, a charitable trust that Wales founded in 2019.  

"What you see displayed is what Wikipedia looked like at the moment that I set up the software," Wales told The Verge.  

The single page will also be launched publicly on the Web, open to free editing like any Wikipedia page. However, the changes will only last five minutes, after which the page will revert to its original state: a single edit reading "Hello, World!"

The buyers of the NFT will be able to access this publicly launched web page. The NFT is created on the Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts. Also, the buyers can change the window in order to revert all the edits made or even turn off editing and shut down the page. 

"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," said Wales.

The goal behind the release of this NFT, as described by Wales, is to take people back in time to the initial version of Wikipedia and make them realize how vulnerable it was and how easily it could "be taken over by trolls in five minutes."

Wales also commented on the adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. He compared the same with the dot-com bubble in the early 1990s and pointed out that cryptocurrencies have energy concerns. 

"We're still very, very far from mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies," said Wales.

The personal computer used by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is going up for auction The personal computer used by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is going up for auction Photo: AFP / KENA BETANCUR