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Happy birthday, Bitcoin!

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Bitcoin, the OG cryptocurrency, turns 11 on 31 October. Over the past decade (and a bit), Bitcoin has inspired the advent of an entirely new industry based on the concept of decentralization. For its most fierce supporters, Bitcoin signals salvation – a way of beating the centralized financial systems and garnering freedom.

A lot has happened over the last 11 years, so let’s break things down year by year and take a look at the rise of this incredible technology. 


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2008

On 31 October 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released a whitepaper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. The paper detailed modes of using a peer-to-peer network (a blockchain), to form a cryptocurrency that functioned outside of the boundaries of a central bank or authority. The paper was largely in response to the financial crisis that had occurred earlier in the same year, a recession which rocked the global financial markets. 

2009

3 January 2009 saw the formation of the Bitcoin blockchain, when Satoshi Nakamoto mined the genesis block of Bitcoin (block 0), which had a reward of 50 BTC. The following text was embedded in the coinbase of this block: 

“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” 

Many people believe that this text refers to a headline that was published in The Times on 3 January 2009. It’s believed to act both as a timestamp of the genesis date, and a comment on the instability that was caused by fractional-reserve banking and, therefore, the global recession. 

SourceForge hosted the first open source Bitcoin client, which was released on 9 January 2009. 

On 12 January 2009, Hal Finney (one of Bitcoin’s earliest supporters) received 10 BTC from Satoshi Nakamoto in the world’s first Bitcoin transaction. 

2010

A major vulnerability in the protocol of the Bitcoin network was spotted on 6 August 2010. Transactions were not being properly verified before they were included in the blockchain, allowing users to essentially bypass the network’s supply restrictions of 21 million and create an infinite number of Bitcoins.  

This vulnerability came to a head when a hacker generated 184 billion Bitcoins, which they then sent to 2 addresses on the network. This was spotted within a number of hours, and the transaction was erased from the transaction log after the bug was fixed. 

2011

The Electronic Frontier Foundation began accepting BTC in January 2011, but shut down the program in June 2011 when concerns around the lack of legal precedent for new currency systems emerged. The EFF resumed accepting Bitcoin in May 2013. 

June 2011 also saw whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks begin accepting BTC, as a way for supporters to make anonymous donations. 

2012

September 2012 signalled the launch of the Bitcoin Foundation, which was intended to “accelerate the global growth of Bitcoin through standardization, protection, and promotion of the open source protocol”. 

In October 2012, it was reported by BitPay that more than 1000 merchants had started accepting Bitcoin as a payment processing service. In November, WordPress joined them. 


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2013

In April 2013, Mt. Gox and BitInstant reported processing delays due to insufficient capacity. This resulted in the Bitcoin exchange rate dropping from $266 to $76 to $160 in the space of only 6 hours. 

In October 2013, roughly 26,000 BTC were seized from the website Silk Road by the FBI during the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht. 29 October saw two companies, Robocoin and Bitcoiniacs, launch the world’s first Bitcoin ATM in Vancouver, Canada. 

2014

Early February saw Mt Gox, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges at the time, suspend withdrawals citing technical issues. By the end of the month it had filed for bankruptcy protection, during reports that 850,000 BTC had been stolen during a hack of the exchange. 

In June 2014, Bitcoin’s hashrate exceeded 100,000 tera hashes per second for the first time. 

Microsoft began accepting Bitcoin for Xbox and Windows software purchases in December 2014. 

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2015

Less than a year after the Mt. Gox fiasco, UK-based exchange Bitstamp declared that they would go offline to investigate a hack which resulted in roughly 19,000 BTC being stolen from their hot wallet. They remained offline for several days, before coming back with increased security measures. 

February 2015 saw the number of merchants accepting Bitcoin exceed a whopping 100,000. 

2016

In January 2016, Bitcoin’s hash rate exceeded 1,000,000 tera hashes per second. March 2016 saw the Cabinet of Japan recognize digital assets like Bitcoin as having a similar function to fiat currency, and Bidorbuy, South Africa’s largest online marketplace, launched Bitcoin payments for buyers and sellers. 

From March 2015 to September 2016, the number of Bitcoin ATMs doubled over the course of only 18 months. The 2016 halvening, saw miner’s reward for validating transactions halve, and heralded the arrival of 2017’s epic and record-breaking bull run. 

2017

2017 was quite the year for Bitcoin. It continued gaining legitimacy among lawmakers and financial companies, with Japan and Russia both passing laws that legitimized cryptocurrencies existence in the mainstream. Bitcoin also underwent a hard fork on 1 August, splitting in Bitcoin (BTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). 

2017 saw the culmination of a historic Bitcoin bull run, when Bitcoin’s price reached an all time high of $20,089 USD, according to CoinMarketCap.  

2018

On 22 January 2018, South Korea introduced regulations requiring Bitcoin traders to disclose their identities, effectively implementing a ban on anonymous Bitcoin trading. 2018 was a bit of a rough year for Bitcoin , and cryptocurrencies in general, as the market plunged from the great highs of December 2017. 

We see everything that this tech continues to offer, so happy birthday Bitcoin, you’ve been good to us. 

2019

So here we are today: Bitcoin has made a solid recovery from it’s dismal 2018, and many analysts expect a bull run in the near future. Bitcoin has connected people and communities in a way that no technology has before. Bitcoin is the pioneer behind blockchain, that is helping build a more decentralized and fairer future. Ultimately, Bitcoin is a tool for freedom – and it’s not going anywhere. Happy Birthday Bitcoin – you’ve been good to us!


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