Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown Bitcoin creator, released the first client network on this day 12 years ago, officially kickstarting what is perhaps the greatest monetary revolution of the 21st century.
Six days prior, on Jan. 3, 2009, Satoshi mined the Genesis block, known as #0, coding it into the software. Unlike the subsequent blocks in the chain, the coin base reward from the Genesis block cannot be spent, as only publicly mined “coins” can be transferred. So, the first block, or #1, was mined on Jan. 9, putting a true start to the network as it is known today.
At the time, Satoshi announced the news to the cryptography mailing list with a download link to Bitcoin 0.1.0 on the open-source software database platform Sourceforge.
Bitcoin 0.1.0 was only compatible with the Windows operating system. The first client version with Linux support did not come until December 2009 with the release of Bitcoin 0.2.0.
Less than a week before releasing the first client software, Satoshi mined the Genesis block, beginning the network. Hal Finney received the first-ever BTC transaction on Jan. 12, 2009.
At the time, early adopters were already alive to the possibility of creating monetary value from computing power. According to Finney: “The possibility of generating coins today with a few cents of compute time may be quite a good bet.”
The programmer and cryptographer enthusiast famously predicted that Bitcoin could attain world reserve currency status and reach $10 million per coin. Satoshi agreed with Finney’s optimistic expectations, adding: “It might make sense just to get some in case it catches on.”
However, it was not until October 2009 that Bitcoin (BTC) would receive its first official valuation. At the time, the New Liberty Standard, an early BTC exchange, created a benchmark price for Bitcoin set at 1,309 BTC to $1.
Pizza, WikiLeaks and Satoshi’s exit
Early miners became flush with Bitcoin, as the network is still in its infancy. Some even create Bitcoin faucets that help to promote broader BTC penetration.
In May 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz cemented his place forever in Bitcoin folklore, paying 10,000 BTC for pizza in what is widely considered to be the first “real-world” Bitcoin transaction.
WikiLeaks, cut off from funding sources, turned to Bitcoin and some early adopters encouraged Julian Assange to consider BTC adoption. Satoshi admonished Assange against the course of action, arguing that an association with WikiLeaks could bring unnecessary heat on the fledgling project.
Indeed, Satoshi’s plea to Assange was one of the last pieces of digital correspondence from the Bitcoin creator before exiting the scene completely.
Silk Road and mining expansion
By 2011, Bitcoin appeared to be evolving from being a strictly cypherpunk affair to the realm of anarchists and proponents of a free market. Silk Road, the defunct darknet marketplace, made an appearance with BTC as a popular payment method for illegal drug trafficking and other…