22 key moments in the history of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is 10 today, in the eyes of many. Here are are 22 noteworthy points in its history. 

  1. The Whitepaper. While it is rumoured that Satoshi Nakamoto – whoever that may be – had been working on the concept for Bitcoin for some time, almost certainly as far back as 2007,  we’re here to mark the publication of the infamous Nakamoto whitepaper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System on October 31st, 2008 . However, by the time that had appeared on the Cypherpunk mailing list, Bitcoin.org had already been established as a domain name in August 2008, and Nakamoto had been having ongoing discussions about the concept with other list members for some time.
  2. The Genesis Block. Bitcoin springs to life with the mining of Block 0 at 6.15pm (GMT), January 3rd 2009 by Satoshi (his/her tendency to operate in traditionally european/western timeframes is one of the reasons often cited for doubting the person(s) behind the name are Japanese). His reward is 50 bitcoins (it is believed Satoshi is sitting on many hundreds of thousands which have never moved). Within the code of this first block, though, Bitcoin’s creator leaves the message “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”, widely interpreted as his commentary on the need for a decentralised currency.
  3. The First Transaction. With the Bitcoin v0.1 software released into the wild on January 3rd, 2009, by the 12th of the month the very first Bitcoin transaction is completed when legendary cypherpunk, game designer and cryptographer, Hal Finney becomes the recipient of 10 BTC from Satoshi him/herself. Finney later becomes one of the people most strongly linked with being the the pseudonymous Bitcoin creator, though consistently denied being Nakamoto up until his untimely death in 2014.
  4. Bitcoin’s First Valuation. The first attempt to compare the value of Bitcoin to that of the US dollar is recorded as being by the pro-crypto website New Liberty Standard. Based on the cost of running a machine to mine the cryptocurrency, on October 5th, 2009 the price is estimated to be 1,309 BTC per dollar.
  5. Pizza Day. When Laszlo Hanyecz took to the Bitcointalk forums offering to pay 10,000 BTC for Pizza, he sealed his legacy. When the two pizzas he got for his bag of bitcoin arrived on May 22nd, 2010, it achieved three things. Firstly, it completed the first ever known transaction using Bitcoin that resulted in the delivery of a physical product – and simultaneously afforded BTC a solid measure of what it was actually worth in the real world (about $0.0025 according to the guy who took Laszlo’s crypto and ordered a Papa John’s to be delivered to his home in Jacksonville, Florida). Secondly, it made Hanyecz infamous as the man who blew a fortune (at on point in early 2018 those bitcoins would have been worth close to $200m) on dinner. Thirdly, it created Pizza Day… We will remember you, Laszlo.
  6. Bitcoin Breaks $0.01. When we spoke to bitcoin investor Sean Walsh in September, he told us that “50 years from now,” when historians write about Bitcoin, “the most prominent part of all their books is going to be Bitcoin going from zero to one” – and this is the first ‘one’, we suppose. It’s unlikely that we’d be talking about Bitcoin if it wasn’t for the fact that it has monetary value, no matter how questionable you consider that, and the July 18th 2010 move from below a cent to $0.08c (after tech site Slashdot wrote about v0.3 of the Bitcoin software) was perhaps the real beginning of the ongoing fascination with Bitcoin’s price. While the price stalled at that point for a while due to issues with the Bitcoin code, by November of that year it had reached the astronomical heights of $0.36.
  7. Financial Action Task Force Report. In October of 2010, another of the narratives surrounding Bitcoin to this day – its potential for use by criminals – first came into focus courtesy of a report by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force. Ironically, eight years later, it is only now getting around to creating some kind of unified set of rules for customers looking to move funds into and out-of cryptocurrencies.
  8. The Next ‘One’. February 2011 sees Bitcoin cross the $1 mark for the first time. Around the same point, an investor by the name of Roger Ver ploughs an initial $25,000 into buying Bitcoin via crypto exchange Mt.Gox, then quickly buys more. You’ll hear more about him later. By June 9th, when Gawker describes the notorious, bitcoin-driven Silk Road online market as “The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable”, the price briefly gets as high as $31. You’ll hear more about Silk Road later, too.
  9. Wikileaks Takes Bitcoin Donations. Enhancing bitcoin’s reputation as a bête noire is the June 14th, 2011 decision by Wikileaks to accept anonymous donations in Bitcoin. Financially speaking, it serves Wikileaks well, but does little to help Bitcoin’s reputation in the eyes of regulators and the wider public.
  10. Mt.Gox hack no.1. Just five days later, on June 19th 2011, a breach of security at Mt.Gox – by then the biggest Bitcoin exchange in the world – sees a rash of fraudulent trading and precipitates a flash crash sending the price of BTC plummeting from over $17 to just $0.01. The site has to be shut down for seven days, and a lot of important user data is compromised.
  11. The $100 Mark. Bitcoin hits $100 in value for the first time on – wait for it – April 1st, 2012. NO JOKE.
  12. Silk Road Shut Down. October 2013, saw the FBI seize around 26,000 BTC from the Silk Road website’s coffers during the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the man alleged to be the mastermind of the site, known by the alias Dread Pirate Roberts (A Princess Bride reference, film fans). Though there are later incarnations of the Silk Road concept, the end of this v1.0 is also the end of an era for the idea that Bitcoin is a truly anonymous currency, as rumours swirl about the ability of authorities to trace users of the crypto and the security of the wider Tor network. Contrary to the fears of many, however, while the shutdown effects the BTC price temporarily, it and trading volumes quickly recovered and exceed pre-Silk Road levels.
  13. China-powered Boom takes BTC to $1,000. By late November of 2013, the price of Bitcoin has briefly exploded to over $1,000 fuelled by investment from China. The price steadily declines through early 2014, however, more than halving by early March.
  14. Mt.Gox Hack no.2. The decline from Bitcoin’s price high is aided by the the final death knell of Mt.Gox, sounded in early February 2014. It is slowly revealed over a couple of surreal weeks that the exchange has been systematically drained of a massive cache of over 700,000BTC by hackers. At the time, the calamitous state of Mt.Gox highlighted the frailties of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and the risks of investing, it is then 2017 before the price of Bitcoin somewhat shakes of the reputational damage and again reaches the price levels seen in late 2013. The fallout from the hack is still being sifted through today, in fact, after around 200,000 of the coins ‘lost’ in the theft from the seemingly chaotic and somewhat ad hoc operation run by Mark Karpeles were found as paper-based cold wallets.
  15. Dorian Nakamoto ‘exposed’ as Satoshi. On March 6th, 2014 Newsweek writer Leah McGrath Goodman published an article claiming to have found the real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. The object of her expose was Dorian Nakamoto, a seemingly innocuous, then 64-year old living outside of LA. Having been doorstepped by the reporter, and having given what the publication claimed to be an admission of his role in creating the cryptocurrency, he later claimed to have misunderstood the reporter’s questions, and strenuously denied the magazine’s claims. The story has never been retracted formally, but now carries a proviso and a statement from D. Nakamoto denying its conclusion.
  16. Craig White claims to be Satoshi. In May 2016, The BBC and The Economist reported claims by Australian businessman Craig White that he was, in fact Satoshi Nakamoto. The claims have largely since been de-bunked, but for a while seemed credibly backed up by cryptographic evidence (again, also debunked). When pressed on the matter, White later demurred from presenting any further evidence to back up his claim, saying “I believed that I could do this. I believed that I could put the years of anonymity and hiding behind me. But, as the events of this week unfolded and I prepared to publish the proof of access to the earliest keys, I broke. I do not have the courage. I cannot.”
  17. Bitcoin re-takes $1000. Fast forward to January 1st, 2017. It would mark the beginning of a tumultuous year for Crypto.
  18. Bitcoin/Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork. August 1st, 2017 sees the final chapter of a long-running dispute over a technical aspect of how the Bitcoin network is run – block size. While the details are for another piece, the central argument – about potential for centralisation of the Bitcoin network and the importance of how to scale the key cryptocurrency to greater demand, had led to Roger Ver (Remember him? He’d since gained the nickname ‘Bitcoin Jesus’) and his associates – chief among them Craig White (yes, that one), and mining giant BitMain’s founder, Jihan Wu – to instigate the most significant fork of the Bitcoin protocol yet, and create Bitcoin Cash. Everyone who had Bitcoin when the fork happened now had Bitcoin ‘Classic’ and Bitcoin Cash and an ongoing war for hearts and minds now had respective banners to fight under.
  19. Bitcoin Busts Through $10k. November 28th, 2017 saw Bitcoin break through the $10,000 barrier for the first time, as part of a meteoric rise for it and the ever-growing family of cryptocurrencies built upon and around it.
  20. Bitcoin Futures Launch. The end of 2017, December 10th, to be precise, sees the launch of the first Bitcoin Futures trades on the CBoE (Chicago Board Options Exchange), it fuels further rises in the price of Bitcoin pushing it to levels never seen before. The bigger CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) follows a week later with a similar offering. That’s just as…
  21. Bitcoin Hits All-time High. On Saturday, December 16, 2017 Bitcoin hits its all-time-high price above $19,900 – kissing but never surpassing the $20,000 mark. The ensuing sell-off is swift, with prices dipping down to $12,000 by the 22nd. Early January sees $17k, but the market has never approached that kind of numbers since.
  22. Regulation, consolidation. 2018 has seen a depressed crypto market after then highs of late 2017, with the price of Bitcoin bouncing consistently off the $6,000 mark throughout the year. A waiting game regarding regulation around the world has led to low volumes and caution. The rejection of several Exchange Traded Fund proposals has added to this, though institutional investment appears to be on the horizon as Bitcoin continues its journey into the mainstream.
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