It’s been 14 years since the first Bitcoin (BTC) transaction took place. On January 12, 2009, Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto sent 10 BTC to renowned cryptographer and computer scientist Hal Finney. This pilot transaction took place before BTC had a price and was the precursor to many peer-to-peer remittances enabled by the world’s first cryptocurrency network.
Finney, who passed away in August 2014, was also the first person other than Satoshi Nakamoto to download and run Bitcoin software.
In 2013, Finney posted a detailed story on the web forum Bitcoin Talk, citing legendary cypherpunk Phil Zimmerman. Phil Zimmerman has revealed that he was the first person hired to develop PGP Corporation’s Pretty Good Privacy encryption solution.
“When Satoshi announced the first release of the Bitcoin software, I got it right away,” Finney wrote. Interested in projects that could decouple money from politics and give users sovereignty over their own wealth, he decided to experiment with early “digital cash.” But Finney said others were more skeptical at first.
“Cryptographers have seen so many grand schemes by ignorant novices that they tend to react in denial,” Finney wrote.
After mining some coins, finding a few bugs, and running the software for a few days, I decided that the protocol was stable, but that it was taxing my CPU, so I stopped running the software.
In August 2009, after several months of downloading the software, receiving the coins, and staying away from bitcoin, Finney was diagnosed with ALS. The incurable neurological disease left Mr. Finney paralyzed within a few years.
After an illness forced him into early retirement, Finney decided to return to Bitcoin. At the time of posting the memoir on the message board, Finney was working on a new type of wallet.
“Very slow, almost 50 times slower than it used to be. But I still love programming and it gives me a purpose.”
1 BTC = $10 million
Finney saw Bitcoin as a project with the potential to grow very quickly. In an email to Satoshi Nakamoto, Finney predicted the value of Bitcoin. He believed that some of the world’s household wealth would flow into Bitcoin and that 1 BTC would one day be worth $10 million.
“If Bitcoin makes everyone rich, like everyone expects Bitcoin to reach $1 million, then some of the assets earned without working should be used for something good.” Finney posted on Bitcoin Talk in 2011. It might sound lofty, but Finney understood the speculative side of crypto.
“The danger is that people buy bitcoin in the hope that it will go up, and the resulting demand pushes the price up. This is a bubble, and we all know the bubble will burst.”
His other predictions, such as network growth and security issues, have largely come true.
Are you Satoshi Nakamoto?
Finney is widely believed to be the creator of Bitcoin. Beyond the fact that coders are often the first users and founders are the first customers, Finney certainly had a knack for designing things like Bitcoin.
For example, in 2004, Finney built the first renewable proof-of-work (RPoW) system, based on a proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm designed by Adam Back, that allowed people to It puts computing power to use for meaningful purposes. Finney’s RPoW use case was a digital token system.
If Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity didn’t matter then, it doesn’t matter much now. Finney wrote in Satoshi Nakamoto’s correspondence that he felt he was facing someone who was “extremely smart and sincere.” But most importantly, the code worked and the idea was a good one.
｜Translation and editing: Akiko Yamaguchi, Takayuki Masuda
| Image: Hal Finney
｜Original: Remembering Hal Finney on the 14th Anniversary of the First Bitcoin Transaction