Cryptocurrency continues to be a hot topic as we close in on the end of the 2nd decade of the 21st century. While there are sure to be more exciting events as the technology continues to develop, it’s important to take a look back to better understand what has led to this point. These are the most important events in cryptocurrency history:
The Publishing of the White Paper
The Bitcoin white paper recently celebrated its 10th birthday and it remains the gold standard when it comes to explanatory documents in the world of crypto. The white paper was the original document that Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto shared via a cryptography mailing list when he launched the network in late 2008. It elegantly summarizes the technology behind how the digital currency works and the economic factors driving participation in the network. Without it, we would have no crypto merchandise, “blockchain industry”, or the universe of thousands of altcoins.
The Bitcoin Pizza Purchase
In the early days of Bitcoin, it wasn’t actually being used for much of anything. People would buy them from others on internet forums but there was no real exchange going on for goods and services. That all changed on May 22nd, 2010. On that day, Laszlo Hanyecz successfully completed a trade of 10,000 BTC (worth $41 at the time) for two pizzas from Domino’s. The entire exchange occurred via the legendary BitcoinTalk forum. While many people feel like this was a waste of coins (the 10,000 would be worth $200 million at all-time-high prices), Laszlo is celebrated in the community for kick-starting the use of Bitcoin for more than simple speculation. Today, to commemorate that event, May 22nd is dubbed Bitcoin Pizza Day.
The Launch of Namecoin
While, today, there are thousands of so-called altcoins for cryptocurrency users to utilize, in the beginning, there was only Bitcoin. This was until April 18th, 2011 when Namecoin was launched. It had been spawned by discussions on the Bitcointalk forum about utilizing a system under the name BitDNS that would be an alternative to top-level domains such as .com and .net while being independent of ICANN. While this initial goal has still not been able to gain traction, Namecoin is nonetheless notable for the fact that it kickstarted the idea of utilizing the blockchain technology implemented by Bitcoin to attack different use-cases in a decentralized manner.
The Mt Gox Crash
Cryptocurrency has never been easy for investors. Maybe the best example of this comes from the rise and spectacular fall of one of the earliest exchanges for bitcoins: Mt Gox. The exchange was based in Tokyo and, in 2014, was handling over 70% of all BTC transactions in the world. What was an institutional powerhouse quickly collapsed. In April 2014 they announced that 850,000 bitcoins that had belonged to customers had either gone missing or were stolen. While the exact details of what happened are being investigated to this day, it is known that gross mismanagement allowed for bitcoins to be stolen from the exchange’s hot wallet on an ongoing basis beginning in 2011. While the crypto ecosystem has evolved greatly since then, many veterans of the space look to Mt Gox as a reminder that you should never put too much trust in an exchange to keep secure storage of your coins.
There is much to be excited about in the world of crypto as we look towards 2020 and beyond, but with such a rich history, it serves community members well to research and understand the history of the space. Make sure to keep looking for more information!