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A decade of Bitcoin milestones

Tony Zerucha

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To mark the tenth anniversary of the release of the Bitcoin whitepaper, our friends at Best Bitcoin Exchange have chronicled the key points behind its rise.

With help from research provided by bestbitcoinexchange.io, we tracked the evolution and development of the world’s most traded cryptocurrency. Find out more about its history and how to buy and trade bitcoin.

2008 

Oct. 31: The Bitcoin concept is born

On Oct. 31, 2008, a link to a Satoshi Nakamoto paper was sent to a cryptography mailing list. Its title? Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. In it, Nakamoto outlined the belief transactions should be able to exist without the mediation of a trusted third party, and without the costs associated, in turn. It was this belief and his paper that formed the basis of the blockchain which would come to define the early cryptocurrency movement.

2009

Jan. 3: The first block is mined

The Bitcoin network was brought into the world on Jan. 3, 2009, when Nakamoto mined the very first block, also known as the Genesis Block – and was rewarded with 50 bitcoin. Six days later, the very first open-source Bitcoin client was created and, just three days later, Hal Finney received the maiden Bitcoin transaction when he accepted a transfer of 10 bitcoins from Satoshi.

2010

Aug. 15: Bitcoin’s only major security breach

2010 was a landmark year for Bitcoin – in February, the first real use of Bitcoin happened when 10,000 bitcoins were exchanged for two takeaway pizzas. More importantly, however, it also marked the discovery and exploitation of a major weakness in the blockchain’s security. On Aug. 6, it was discovered transactions weren’t being properly verified prior to being included on the blockchain or log.

This meant anyone could create an unlimited number of coins on the network. Nine days later, that flaw was breached, and 184 billion bitcoins were created, before being distributed to two addresses. This forced the development team to take action, with the transactions being erased and the flaw rectified with an update to the Bitcoin protocol. Since then, there have been no further major breaches in the blockchain’s history, proving that the quick response and updated format was effective and has continued to hold firm.

2011

Apr. 16: Bitcoin is lauded by Time Magazine

This year proved to be the one where Bitcoin hit the mainstream. In its early months, competitors to Bitcoin such as Litecoin and Swiftcoin became available. This provided a more diverse cryptocurrency landscape and investors saw Bitcoin’s price rise to around the $15 mark – a high for that time. In April, perhaps the biggest boost to the crypto came when Time Magazine published its article entitled Online Cash Bitcoin Could Challenge Governments, Banks, in which Bitcoin was discussed as being ‘true digital cash’.

2012

June 20: The foundation of Coinbase

Bitcoin took further steps into mainstream adoption in 2012 as platforms became more readily available for its transfer and storage. In June of that year, Coinbase was formed by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam. It began as a wallet for those looking to store their digital coins but has since evolved into one of the most popular brokerages for cryptocurrency trading. When the platform first began allowing users to buy and sell bitcoin via bank transfers, it saw $1,000,000 worth of bitcoin purchased within a 30-day period.

2013

Oct. 29: The first publicly accessible Bitcoin ATM

Cryptocurrency had long been seen as existing only in a digital environment but 2013 saw Bitcoin extend that reach into a physical realm. In October, Waves Coffee in Vancouver, British Columbia became home to the world’s first publicly-accessible ATM for the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The machine allowed users who had their palms scanned to exchange up to $3,000 of bitcoin every day. This was the first example of member of the public being able to use physical fiat currency to purchase bitcoin with ease, and vice versa. In May 2018, there were over 3,000 Bitcoin ATMs worldwide, but a coffee house in Canada proved to be the pioneer.

2014

Mar. 9: Mt Gox collapses

Tokyo-based Mt. Gox was launched in July 2010 and soon became the world’s leading Bitcoin exchange, handling more than 70 per cent of all BTC transactions worldwide by early 2014. However, in early February 2014, the company ceased all bitcoin withdrawals amidst mounting user complaints about long-delayed transaction times. Over the course of Feb. 23 and 24, Mt Gox’s CEO Mark Karpeles resigned from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation, the exchange went completely offline, and all of its social media posts were removed.

An internal memo leaked at the time claimed the company was insolvent, having lost close to 850,000 bitcoins in a theft worth $473 million that had gone unnoticed for years. Although Mt Gox eventually recovered 200,000 bitcoins, its fate was sealed. On Feb. 28, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan, and placed a similar application in the US on Mar. 9 – officially marking the end of the exchange. This did not, however, prove to be detrimental to Bitcoin in the long run – it hit an all-time high in 2017 when it was worth nearly $20,000.

2015

January 20: Coinbase smashes Bitcoin startup funding record

Bitcoin showed no signs of slowing down at the start of 2015, with major players continuing to invest in the currency. In January, major exchange site Coinbase raised $75 million in Series C funding, become the world’s most well-funded Bitcoin-related company at the time.

Not only was the investment notable for its monetary value, but also for the participation of three huge mainstream financial services companies, who were seen to be dipping their toes into the cryptocurrency waters: the New York Stock Exchange, USAA Bank and the multinational BBVA.

At the time, Coinbase boasted a user base of almost two million. By November 2017, this had risen to 13.3 million, with the company recording an estimated turnover of $1 billion for 2016-2017.

2016

Apr. 26: Steam accepts Bitcoin for game purchases

The popularity of Bitcoin in the mainstream was highlighted by the fact digital video game distribution platform Steam began accepting the currency for the first time in 2016. Players on the service, which boasted a peak of 12 million concurrent users at this time (a figure which reached 18.5 million by 2018), were able to use bitcoin to purchase games through the service using BitPay.

The Valve-owned site, however, stopped accepting cryptocurrency payments in late 2017, citing price “volatility” and rising fees as the reasons for its decision. 

2017

June 6: Cryptocurrency market capitalization tops $100 billion

Mid-2017 saw several positive developments for the acceptability and legitimacy of Bitcoin. Japan passed a law accepting the cryptocurrency as a legal payment method, with major retailers in the country getting behind the virtual currency act. Meanwhile, Russia announced it was to legalize cryptocurrencies, while Norway went one step further, with its largest online bank, Skandiabanken, integrating Bitcoin accounts alongside its usual offerings for customers.

These moves contributed to a eight per cent rise in the value of Bitcoin, which topped the price of gold for the first time. By June 1, the cryptocurrency industry had reached a staggering $100 billion in combined market capitalization.

2018

Oct. 31: Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency landscape today

So, after 10 years of development, growth and evolution, we reach the present day. As previously mentioned, there are now more than 2,400 cryptocurrencies in circulation, and that figure looks set to keep growing.

More and more companies are accepting digital currencies, proving Satoshi Nakamoto’s vision of peer-to-peer transactions without a third party was ambitious but, ultimately, realistic. Businesses as diverse as Microsoft, KFC and Expedia have accepted Bitcoin as a payment method. So, going forward, it doesn’t seem unlikely we will reach a point of mass adoption.

The future appears to be very much in the hands of cryptocurrency pioneers, just as it was when Nakamoto first published the whitepaper one decade ago. Only time will tell whether the next 10 years are just as fruitful for Bitcoin and the entire collection of cryptocurrencies.

 

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha is an alternative finance journalist with more than seven years experience in the space. The author of more than 1,000 articles, Tony was named LendIt's 2018 Journalist of the Year.

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