The world's first fully decentralized cryptographic financial network, Bitcoin, launched five years ago today. The years since then have been a wild ride. The currency's value has risen from nothing to billions of dollars, and millions have been invested in Bitcoin-related startups. Here's a brief synopsis of Bitcoin's most important milestones.
Jan. 3, 2009: Satoshi Nakamoto launches the Bitcoin network by creating the"genesis block," the first entry in Bitcoin's global transaction register. It includes the following text: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks."
Jan. 11: Some people immediately recognize that if Bitcoin catches on, its early users will get rich. Hal Finney estimates that if Bitcoin became the world's reserve currency, each Bitcoin could be worth as much as $10 million. "The possibility of generating coins today with a few cents of compute time may be quite a good bet," he says. Nakamoto agrees: "It might make sense just to get some in case it catches on." Finneymines bitcoins for a few days, but then he turns the program off because it makes his computer run too hot.
Jan. 12: The first Bitcoin transaction occurs, as Nakamoto sends some Bitcoins to Finney.
Aug. 15: Bitcoin is slowly attracting users. Tyler Gillies sends a note to the bitcoin-list e-mail list. "i just downloaded bitcoin, epic piece of software. the digital cash age has arrived." It was the only post to the mailing list that month.
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