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Happy Birthday, Bitcoin! A Retrospective on the First 10 Years of Bitcoin
Bitcoin is officially double-digits old! Join us as we summarize the last decade since Bitcoin arrived on the scene.
By Joe Coburn Posted in Commentary on October 31, 2018 6 min read
What Is Bitcoin? A Quick and Dirty Introduction Previous When Is the Safest Time to Invest in Cryptocurrency? Next

I’ll get the cake if you bring the presents. With Bitcoin turning 10 years old today, here’s a reminder of some of the big things that happened on this wild and crazy adventure.

When Bitcoin first arrived on October 31, 2008, few could imagine the dizzying heights it would rise to. While Bitcoin technically launched in 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto’s brilliant white paper in 2008 laid the foundations for every cryptocurrency ever—and for free! Hot on the heels of the 2008 global financial crisis, Bitcoin simultaneously solved the double-spending problem, decentralized currency, and resisted censorship.

Here are some of the more notable events in Bitcoin’s history, summed up in intelligent, funny, and sometimes terrible tweets. If you don’t know about blockchain yet, consider checking out our What is blockchain? and What is cryptocurrency? articles.

Bitcoin in Review, 280 Characters at a Time

Since launching in 2006, Twitter’s character limit has doubled from 140 to 280 characters. Bitcoin’s value, however, has gone from zero to $19,800, and then back down to $6,400. Making stops at $1, $10, $100, and $1,000, what’s next for “the people’s currency”?

Almost every year, like clockwork, Brit James Howells draws media attention by searching a landfill site for his Bitcoin. He mined 7,500 BTC in 2009, and then subsequently threw away his computer. Every year the news reporters figure out how much that’s worth now, and run last years story. They might even update the price if you’re lucky.

In 2013, James started investigating how to search a landfill site in Wales when Bitcoin hit $1,000 for the first time. Legend has it he’s still looking today.

The first recorded Bitcoin transaction involved a whole lot of Satoshis and two pizzas. Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 BTC for two large pizzas in 2010. This was about $30 worth at the time and is widely considered to be the first Bitcoin transactions. He didn’t use an exchange, however, and it’s unlikely the pizza shop even knew what Bitcoin was.

By paying an IRC user to buy the pizza for him, Laszlo bypassed the pizza chain’s stringent cash-or-card-only policy. You may look back and think this was foolish, but if nobody ever spent Bitcoin, it would never become the coin you know and love today.

Greg Schoen famously sold 1,700 BTC at $0.30 back in 2011 and then tweeted his regret once the price hit $8. Those Bitcoins were worth a cool $280 million at the height of January’s peak, but he’s not bitter. Nobody knew back that where it would stop, and if he kept hold of his coins, he may have sold at $10 or $100, and still made a significant profit.

When Bitcoin first hit $1,000 in 2013, people were euphoric. Bitcoin continued to gain massive media coverage and a four-figure price really got people talking. Scott Armstrong asks all the important questions: “Why didn’t I invest on the ground level?”

After reaching the wild heights of $1200, Bitcoin soon plummeted down to around $150. Seasoned HOLDlers may be tough enough to withstand such drops now, but back then, Bitcoin was in big trouble. As Null TX theorized, we know the facts. Maybe we can go back and warn them. Does anyone have a time machine?

One possible reason for the huge crash was Mt. Gox. A dark day in crypto history, which still rears its ugly head even today. At the start of 2014, Mt. Gox was the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world. Mt. Gox suffered an enormous hack and lost 740,000 BTC. This was 6% of all Bitcoin ever created at the time.

While still under bankruptcy protection today, Mt. Gox found 200,000 BTC in an old wallet. Users who lost out won’t get even a fraction of their coins back, however. These coins are currently selling in huge batches, with users and Mt. Gox creditors getting paid back in cash. This sounds good in theory, but many users would rather have all their original Bitcoin back, instead of a small token cash sum. Not only that but by selling large quantities of Bitcoin, the Mt. Gox insolvency practitioner trustees continue to trigger sell-offs.

In June 2015, NASDAQ started trialing a blockchain-backed version of their private market. This moment marked the start of commercial banking interest in Bitcoin. While any big corporation using Bitcoin is a good thing, the big banks and Wall Street traders don’t exactly have a perfect reputation. Still, the more users the better.

December 2017 was the big one. Bitcoin started to reach preposterous heights. People who had no interest in Bitcoin started paying attention and opened their wallets. Bitcoin reached the insane height of $19,783.06. Some say it was the Christmas alcohol. Others continue to call it a bubble or a pyramid scheme. “Tulip anyone?” they began to shout. We ignored them by stuffing Turkey in our ears. The sensible ones among us sold off for a serious profit. The rest of us hung on, wishing it to go higher with every fiber of our beings.

How we should have listened. Bitcoin soon crashed (if you can call anything over $5,000 a crash). From January 2018 to the present day, we’re still reeling from the greatest run-up of all time. Will Bitcoin sit at $6,400 forever more?

Not only did this rally fizzle out, but it left a sour taste in people’s mouths. Those who bought in at the top soon found themselves holding significant baggage. They sell and take a loss, triggering a further panic in the market. It was and still is a vicious cycle. Perhaps we should give “concrete pills” to every wallet address, to toughen everyone up. I joke, seeing your life savings go up in a puff of smoke will drive anyone to despair.

At least you can play some video games while crying into your wallet. Oh, wait. The Bitcoin gold rush pushed GPU prices so high that you can’t afford to buy a decent computer until Bitcoin recovers. Does Amazon accept Bitcoin yet?

These tweets show what a bumpy road it’s been for Bitcoin, and it’s not even matured into adulthood yet! From blistering highs to shocking lows. Pizza to hacks. Bitcoin has seen it all before, and every time it comes back fighting. It may take some time, but history proves that time and time again, Bitcoin will recover and go on to reach new and extreme highs. When we’re all driving our space Lamborghinis in 2032, maybe we’ll laugh at everyone who sold at $15,000.

Bitcoin still needs to be careful, however. While it’s still got the first mover advantage, if the core dev team continue to stir up controversy, the king may soon find itself replaced by a younger model. Many happy returns, Bitcoin!

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