Oh how far we’re come.
It’s been a time of anniversaries for Bitcoin of late, the latest of which is 10 years since the first comment about the cryptocurrency on Twitter.
It was made by Hal Finney – a coder, cryptographer, one of the people identified as a possible candidate for the real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, and certainly the recipient of the first ever bitcoin transfer on January 12th. It didn’t say much, but it shows that even if he wasn’t Satoshi he was probably the first miner of crypto apart from whoever that was/is.
— halfin (@halfin) January 11, 2009
At the point the message was sent out, Bitcoin itself was only a couple of days old. Though there is some conjecture about when it was mined, the Bitcoin Genesis block is dated January 3rd, 2009 – and famously references The Times‘ cover from that date. Block two is then dated January 9th – leading some to believe that Satoshi post-dated the first, in order to put it in line with that famous Easter Egg.
By the time Finney announced to the world that he was ‘Running Bitcoin’, 78 block would have been mined – with 79 coming shortly after, possibly his first.
Hal Finney early career was as a developer of video games, before he moved on to working for PGP as a cryptographer working on early electronic messaging encryption. In 2004, Finney created the first viable Proof of Work system, the cryptographic principle that would eventually drive Nakamoto’s Bitcoin concept. He frequented the same infamous mailing list/’cypherpunk’ community that Satoshi would eventually use to float the idea of Bitcoin and initially disseminate the seminal white paper for the coin. Curiously, Finney lived in very close proximity to Dorian Nakamoto, the man infamously ‘exposed’ by Newsweek as Bitcoin’s creator back in 2013 – both strenuously denied being Satoshi.
The two were recently part of a trio of artworks by crypto-artist Pascal Boyart, alongside Nick Szabo, entitled Who’s Satoshi? Finney’s likeness, created using US dollars, is the one used as the main picture for this article.
Sadly, after being diagnosed with ALS – often known a Motor Neurone Disease in the UK – in 2009, and becoming paralysed over the ensuing years, Finney passed away in 2014. Much of the Bitcoin he accumulated in the early years of the cryptocurrency served to fund his medical expenses, and his post-mortem cryogenic preservation.