10 years ago, the infamous Satoshi Nakamoto published the acclaimed white paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, in November 2008. This was the basis which helped create the pioneer Cryptocurrency now known as Bitcoin.
The Crypto giant has come a long way since its humble beginnings with enhancements in areas such as scalability, accessibility, lower transaction costs and a number of technological improvements. Today Bitcoin is a global phenomenon and individual bitcoins sell for thousands of dollars. Although various other cryptocurrencies have launched throughout the years, none has attracted quite as much attention from users or investors as bitcoin
Bitcoin relies on a ledger called the “blockchain” in which every transaction is cryptographically signed and recorded in the blockchain itself, which is distributed to every participant in the Bitcoin network. Since it is practically impossible, to tamper with the ledger mentioned above, anyone can download the Bitcoin software and blockchain and participate in the network. There are no institutions that have control over who enters into the network or government bureaucrats demanding that you file documentation to participate.
But how did we get to where we are today with Bitcoin? How did it begin, what were its forebearers, and what have been the unexpected turns of the Bitcoin journey? Let’s take a walk through the timeline and find out.
Bitcoin Timeline – 10 Years Bitcoin History: Timeline and Origins
Bitcoin itself did not exist until the late 2000s. Its origins, however, trace back to a few decades ago.
Specifically, we can trace it back as far as 1982. That is when computer scientist David Chaum first proposed the concept of e-Cash. Already concerned with privacy in the digital realm back in the early 80s, Chaum published a paper entitled “Blind signatures for untraceable payments” that detailed a new form of cryptography which he claimed could allow for an automated payment system where third parties could not see information on the payment.
Chaum tried to put this idea, which would create a blind signature system, to practical use in 1990 by creating DigiCash. DigiCash was a company founded in Amsterdam designed, as Bitcoin would be, to create a safe, secure online currency. Chaum’s reputation as a brilliant mind attracted both employees and venture capital alike, but the product itself never caught on and by the late 90s DigiCash was bankrupt.
This year saw the sudden emergence of two cryptocurrency ideas. In late 1998, Wei Dai released an essay detailing his idea for “b-money,” a cryptocurrency whose exchange reads similarly to what the blockchain in Bitcoin would eventually become. The proof-of-work system creates the currency by solving a mathematical computation, and the transfer of money is broadcast to the network.
That same year, Nick Szabo put out a similar proposal for “Bit Gold.” Szabo’s reasoning for alternative currency was to create something that did not require a third party, like a central bank, to create or manage it. Solving the proof-of-work gets you bits and the last bit of the string is used to create the string of the next transaction, similar to Bitcoin’s blockchain.
Neither of these proposals, however, came to fruition.
Those predecessors had tried and failed for two decades prior. Then, in 2008, came Bitcoin. In August of that year, Bitcoin.org was registered. Two months later, a whitepaper was published: “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” The whitepaper’s idea had similar ambitions to the previously mentioned papers: secure digital signatures, not requiring the use of a third party, proof-of-work, and hashing the transactions together to form a chain.
Just a few days into 2009, the first-ever block of Bitcoins, known as the Genesis Block, was mined. By Jan. 9, the first iteration of Bitcoin software was released, and on Jan. 12, the first-ever bitcoin transaction occurred as Nakamoto sent 10 Bitcoins ( (BTC) ) to noted computer programmer and developer Hal Finney.
Toward the end of the year, in October, the New Liberty Standard publishes the first Bitcoin exchange rate in the young cryptocurrency’s history, deeming $1 to be worth 1,309.03 BTC. Nakamoto released the second version of the software in December.
With an exchange rate established, it was only a matter of time until someone attempted to make an actual purchase with Bitcoins. In May of 2010, it happened. Florida-based programmer Laszlo Hanyecz sent 10,000 BTC to a London man in exchange for two pizzas, valued at a total of $25. This still valued a single Bitcoin as a fraction of a penny, but with a purchase made, intrigued parties saw potential in the product. A couple of months later, Bitcoin’s value finally broke the penny threshold
A pivotal year for the exchange of Bitcoin, fittingly the first Bitcoin exchanges popped up in 2010 as well – Bitcoin Market in February, and Mt. Gox in July. Slush, the first mining pool, also mined Bitcoin successfully for the first time that year. Mining pools are where several miners combine resources to get Bitcoin. By November, the market cap for Bitcoin surpassed $1 million for the first time.
Not that it was all ups for Bitcoin. Someone spotted a vulnerability in Bitcoin’s protocol in October that allowed for transactions without proper verification and exploited it, generating 184 billion BTC. The transaction was soon erased and the vulnerability fixed.
Steadily making gains in value after finally passing 1 cent threshold, in February 2011 a major milestone occurred: 1 Bitcoin was worth $1 for the first time.
Bitcoin began receiving press – both good and bad. TIME Magazine published an article on Bitcoin for the first time, but the same year there was also an article on Gawker detailing Silk Road, the dark web drug market where Bitcoin was frequently used as payment. The publicity got people talking, and by June, Bitcoin was worth over $30. Soon after, it crashed back down to about $10.
Still, Bitcoin was becoming an entity that more and more of the public knew about and interest in the cryptocurrency grew. This led to a rise in altcoins, other forms of cryptocurrency whose developers were either trying to improve upon Bitcoin or had created the digital coin for a different purpose. In 2011, Litecoin — now the seventh-largest cryptocurrency by market cap — debuted.
And then… it stalled for a while. Quickly in January 2014 it fell below $1,000 and struggled below the key level for a few years. A few things of note happened, like Crypto exchange Mt. Gox going bankrupt and shutting down, but this period mostly saw Bitcoin rising and falling somewhat while failing to reach its high.
2017, though, was the biggest and busiest year for Bitcoin. After spending 2016 desperately trying to claw its way back up, 2017 was when it finally reached and passed the $1,000 mark. It kept ascending. By June, Bitcoin was worth over $3,000.
Still, some Bitcoin users were frustrated with the network around this time as well. The rising number of Bitcoin miners meant higher fees and more time spent processing transactions, leading some to want an increase in block size. In August, this led to Bitcoin Cash (BCH) being created via a fork in the network. Bitcoin Cash is now the fifth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap.
Still, for the remainder of 2017 Bitcoin was on an upswing. By October, it was topping $6,000. It ended November at nearly $10,000, and by the end of December Bitcoin hit a peak of $19,783. More and more people and companies began chasing the trend as the price just kept rising. Unsurprisingly, it wouldn’t continue that heady growth.
2018 has been a rough year for Bitcoin users, especially ones who held on assuming the price would keep ascending. Many sold their Bitcoins while they could, and the price has steadily dropped all year. As of this writing, Bitcoin’s price is at $6,542.78, a decline of 67%.