Bitcoin’s birthday: What are we really celebrating?
We’ve all been celebrating Bitcoin’s historic moments, and a birthday is always a good time to recount it all from the beginning. But when is Bitcoin’s birthday, actually? When did Bitcoin start?
When was Bitcoin created?
When marking meaningful milestones in the Bitcoin origin story, there is not just one, but two important dates. The first of these anniversaries falls on October 31st, which marks the publication of the Bitcoin white paper that started it all, describing Satoshi Nakamoto’s revolutionary vision of a decentralized digital cash system. This date can be viewed as Bitcoin’s conception.
It is actually January 3rd, however, that commemorates the `birth’ of the world’s first cryptocurrency — the date on which Bitcoin officially came into existence in the practical sense and was mined for the very first time.
In honor of Bitcoin’s birthday, let’s take a closer look at these and other influential moments in Bitcoin’s history.
A brief history of Bitcoin
On October 31st, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the now infamous Bitcoin whitepaper, titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. The document outlined the use of a peer-to-peer network (a blockchain), to create a digital currency (cryptocurrency) that would function independently of third parties such as banks or governments. The Satoshi whitepaper came on the heels of 2008’s major financial crisis which rocked markets and economies worldwide.
On January 3rd, 2009, the Bitcoin blockchain became a reality, when Satoshi Nakamoto mined the genesis block of Bitcoin (known as Block 0), which had a reward of 50 BTC. SourceForge hosted the first open-source Bitcoin client, released on January 9th, 2009, and three days later, the world’s first Bitcoin transaction transpired, with Hal Finney, one of Bitcoin’s earliest supporters, receiving 10 BTC from Satoshi Nakamoto.
By late 2012, it was reported by BitPay that more than a thousand merchants had begun accepting Bitcoin as a payment processing service, with WordPress notably among them. In October 2013, the world’s first Bitcoin ATM launched in Canada. In June 2014, Bitcoin’s hash rate exceeded 100,000 tera hashes per second for the first time, and in December of that year, Microsoft began accepting Bitcoin for Xbox and Windows software purchases. By early 2015, the number of merchants accepting Bitcoin exceeded a whopping 100,000.
Bitcoin was making waves, and in 2016, the momentum really started picking up. In January, Bitcoin’s hash rate exceeded 1,000,000 tera hashes per second. In March, the Cabinet of Japan officially recognized that digital assets such as Bitcoin had a similar function to fiat currency. From March 2015 to September 2016, the number of Bitcoin ATMs doubled. The 2016 Bitcoin `halvening’ (an event that takes place every four years and halves miners’ rewards for validating transactions) increased demand while setting in motion 2017’s famous record-breaking bull run.
But, of course, Bitcoin’s journey has not been without plenty of bumps in the road. On August 6th, 2010, a major bug was exposed in the Bitcoin network’s protocol: some users were able to bypass verification of transactions, allowing them to ignore the network’s supply restrictions of 21 million bitcoins. One hacker managed to generate 184 billion bitcoins and transfer them to other addresses on the network, but the breach was swiftly dealt with and the bug was fixed.
In April 2013, Mt. Gox and BitInstant had major processing delays due to insufficient capacity, causing the Bitcoin exchange rate to plunge. Less than a year after the Mt. Gox fiasco, UK-based exchange Bitstamp shut down to investigate a hack which resulted in roughly 19,000 stolen BTC. Bitstamp remained offline for several days before coming back with increased security measures. In October 2013, roughly 26,000 BTC were seized by the FBI from the Silk Road website during the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht.
Bitcoin then and now
Until now, 2017 was considered the pivotal year for Bitcoin. The world’s first and leading cryptoasset continued gaining legitimacy among lawmakers, financial institutions, and retail companies, further legitimizing crypto in the mainstream. Bitcoin underwent a hard fork on August 1st, splitting into Bitcoin (BTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). At the pinnacle of its historic bull run that year, Bitcoin’s price reached an all-time high of over $20,000 USD.
2018 was a rough year for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, and the market soon plunged from the great highs of December 2017. Lawmakers began introducing stricter regulations, in some cases even effectively banning Bitcoin trading, which put a serious damper on investor euphoria. While 2019 was a better year, with the price of Bitcoin rising overall, the crypto market was still plagued with volatility and, thus, uncertainty about what the future of Bitcoin would hold.
Despite a number of setbacks and recoveries, true crypto believers continued to “HODL,” never doubting the day when Bitcoin would rise again. The last few months of 2020 seem to mark yet another very important point in Bitcoin’s history. As we continue to watch the events unfold, it seems safe to say that Bitcoin’s 12th birthday celebration is a happy one indeed.