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Bitcoin History: From Genesis Block to Global Phenomenon

Bitcoin history began in 2008 with the Bitcoin Whitepaper. Since then, Bitcoin has undergone many changes, as well as price fluctuations.
bitcoin history

After 15 years since its inception, Bitcoin has encountered a rollercoaster of positive and negative events. How significant events in the past have impacted the development and future of Bitcoin? Let’s review the most memorable moments in Bitcoin history with CoinMinutes!

Key Takeaways

  • The history of Bitcoin began in 2008 with the introduction of the Bitcoin Whitepaper.
  • Bitcoin officially launched in 2009.
  • In 2010, Bitcoin was used for the first time to exchange for real-life items.
  • In 2012, the first halving event took place.
  • 2021 marks the first country to accept Bitcoin as legal tender.
  • In 2024, Bitcoin price reached over $73,000 per BTC.

When Did Bitcoin Start?

Bitcoin, the pioneering cryptocurrency emerged as the inaugural and most recognized digital asset. Debuting in January 2009, it was introduced by an individual or group of programmers under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, whose true identity remains elusive.

The 2008 financial crisis eroded public confidence in traditional banks, sparking interest in alternative assets independent of banking systems. This pivotal moment led to the birth of Bitcoin, enabling direct transactions between parties without intermediary financial institutions. 

History of Bitcoin 

In just 15 years, Bitcoin has transformed from a nearly anonymous cryptocurrency to a household name among investors worldwide.

Bitcoin history through each year from 2008 to the present.

2008: Bitcoin’s journey began on October 31, 2008, when a user named Satoshi Nakamoto shared the Bitcoin Whitepaper on a cryptography forum.

The Whitepaper, titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” introduced a decentralized transaction network, bypassing the need for intermediaries like banks or payment apps.

bitcoin white paper share
The Bitcoin Whitepaper shared by Satoshi Nakamoto (Source: mail-archive.com)

Satoshi implemented Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta’s Chain of Blocks technology, renaming it the Distributed Blockchain, to power the Bitcoin network. Additionally, Satoshi enhanced Bitcoin’s security and data storage capacity by modifying the Merkle Tree structure.

2009: While the Bitcoin Whitepaper emerged in October 2008, the official launch of the Bitcoin network occurred in early 2009.

On January 3, 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto “mined” the Genesis Block, marking the inception of the Bitcoin blockchain.

genesis block hex
Genesis Block Hex Code

A mere three days later, Satoshi executed the first-ever Bitcoin transaction, transferring 10 BTC to Hal Finney, the inaugural Bitcoin user. This historic transaction was recorded in block number 170.

2010: On May 22, early Bitcoin miner Laszlo Hanyecz, known as “laszlo” on the forum bitcointalk.org, made history by exchanging 10,000 Bitcoins (then valued at a mere $41, or 0.41 cents per Bitcoin) for two Papa John’s pizzas from Jeremy Sturdivant. This transaction is hailed as one of the earliest instances of Bitcoin being used as intended as a digital currency for purchasing goods or services. 

pizza for bitcoins
Laszlo Hanyecz exchanged 10,000 Bitcoins for pizzas on the BitcoinTalk forum

Every year on May 22, Bitcoin Pizza Day commemorates one of the most iconic transactions in cryptocurrency history.

2011: In February, Bitcoin’s value soared to $1, marking a significant milestone in its ascent. By December of the same year, it surged to over $13, signifying its rapid growth.

During this period, blockchain.info was launched to facilitate easier tracking of BTC. Blockchain.info (now Blockchain.com) played a crucial role by developing a large cryptocurrency wallet, enabling users to store their digital assets securely.

At this time, there was an intriguing event involving a 12-year-old boy who invested $1,000 gifted by his grandmother in approximately 100 Bitcoins and each Bitcoin was valued at around $10. He quickly rose to fame as one of the first cryptocurrency millionaires.

2012: Bitcoin’s value began its ascent from $13, marking the start of a significant growth period.

November 28, 2012, witnessed the first Bitcoin halving event, a pivotal moment in the crypto world. While initially, the halving had little impact on Bitcoin’s price, the coin’s value began to steadily rise at the onset of 2013, a pattern consistently observed after subsequent halving events.

During the first halving event, the block reward was reduced from 50 bitcoins to 25 bitcoins, leading to the value of Bitcoin dropping to $12.50.

2013: Bitcoin reached $1,000 for the first time in November 2013, but did not hold its price for long. Bitcoin closed in 2013 at $700, according to data from CoinDesk.

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice shut down Liberty Reserve, a virtual currency site, for laundering approximately $6 billion from illicit activities, including credit card fraud. Founder Arthur Budovsky, 42, pleaded guilty to laundering $250 million in illegal proceeds.

July 1, 2013, marked the first attempt at a Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) when the Winklevoss twins filed a proposal with securities regulators. Although considered a long shot at the time, the move aimed to bolster Bitcoin’s legitimacy as a legitimate currency.

December 5, 2013, saw China announcing a ban on third-party payment institutions from utilizing Bitcoin, mandating the cessation of all deposit-taking, trading, and other currency-related services. This marked one of the earliest instances of a country speaking out against this cryptocurrency.

2014: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) declared that gains or losses in cryptocurrency must be reported and treated as property. This ruling meant that income from cryptocurrency sales would be subject to taxation as capital gains, akin to profits from stock transactions.

MT. Gox, a major exchange handling most Bitcoin trades, went bankrupt because hackers stole a huge amount of Bitcoin. This event worried many investors and showed that the Bitcoin industry lacked proper rules and oversight. After this, the price of Bitcoin stayed around $300 for three years.

users fight for mtgox money
Users trying to get money back from MT.Gox (Source: coindesk.com)

2015: Bitcoin experienced a gradual upward trajectory, culminating in a year-end value of approximately $430.

2016: The second Bitcoin halving event has occurred. This halving has reduced mining rewards, causing the value of Bitcoin to drop sharply to $670.

On July 9, 2016, Bitcoin experienced its second halving event, reducing the reward per block from 25 BTC to 12.5 BTC. Although Bitcoin’s price initially dropped post-halving, it eventually rebounded, reaching an all-time high of $2,550 by July 2017

In October 2016, certain community members suggested the Segregated Witness (SegWit) solution to enhance scalability by optimizing the block size of BTC.

2017: In July 2017, the upgrade was halted due to community discord. Advocates for a Bitcoin with block sizes exceeding 1 MB instigated a hard fork, resulting in the birth of Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

During this period, two US exchanges, CME and CBOE, started letting people trade contracts for the future price of Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s price shot up from $2,000 in July 2017 to nearly $20,000 by the end of the year.

2018: Following that, the fervor surrounding the world’s largest cryptocurrency dwindled in 2018, with Bitcoin plunging and breaking through the $4,000/BTC threshold.

2019: The IRS provided additional guidance on cryptocurrency transactions, including purchases, sales, and trades, using Form 8949 for reporting capital gains and losses, then the market capitalization of Bitcoin reached over $229 billion.

During the same year, after reaching a euphoric peak of $12,862.48/ounce on July 10, 2019, Bitcoin swiftly declined, hitting a low of $7,233.41/Bitcoin on December 18, 2019.

2020: Bitcoin experienced a dramatic surge, leaping from $7,350 to $30,000.

On May 11, 2020, Bitcoin underwent its third halving event, resulting in miners receiving 6.25 BTC per block, down from the previous reward of 12.5 BTC per block. Similar to the pattern observed in 2016, Bitcoin’s price initially dropped after the halving.

However, it rebounded from its 2020 low of $3,858, reaching $12,100 in late July 2020. On December 16th, 2020, Bitcoin shattered the $23,000 barrier, surpassing the historic $20,000 mark.

On August 11, 2020, MicroStrategy announced the acquisition of 21,454 BTC, valued at over $250 million. This marked the first instance of a publicly traded company investing in BTC.

2021: In the early months of 2021, initiating the market’s bull run, Tesla made headlines by investing $1.5 billion in Bitcoin on February 8.

Expanding its involvement, Tesla started accepting BTC as a payment method in the United States. This development sent shockwaves across the globe with “Tesla, Elon Musk, Bitcoin” dominating headlines. Elon Musk emerged as a prominent figure in the crypto market.

El Salvador made history by becoming the first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. By March 2024, the country’s investment in Bitcoin had resulted in significant profits, marking a major milestone for the Central American nation.

el salvador bitcoin day
El Salvardo newspaper reported that Bitcoin is legal money

2022: By December 23, Bitcoin is trading below $17,000, signaling a 60% loss in value for 2022. This year signifies the start of the digital currency winter cycle triggered by the collapse of several prominent companies.

2023: On January 10, the approval of Bitcoin ETFs by the SEC marked a pivotal moment, signaling Bitcoin’s enduring presence and its readiness for widespread accessibility. Bitcoin ETFs offer a key advantage by enabling investors to purchase Bitcoin through traditional brokerage accounts, eliminating the need for direct cryptocurrency purchases, which often demand technical expertise and a crypto wallet.

2024: April 19 marked the 4th halving event, Bitcoin reward decreased to 3.125 BTC.

The Bottom Line

In summary, Bitcoin’s journey is a tale of significant changes, ups and downs. It began as a mystery and evolved into a well-known investment option. Along the way, it encountered issues such as hacking and government regulations, but it also had substantial leaps in its worth. Despite all of this, Bitcoin remains a fascinating component of the future of money.

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