Yesterday, Jan. 3, it is ten years since the creation of the very first block on the Bitcoin blockchain (BTC).
Known in more technical parlance as a “genesis block,” the first block on a blockchain is unique in that it — logically — contains no reference to any previous blocks, and is always hard-coded into the network’s software, establishing all of the necessary variables required to create the ensuing blockchain.
Whereas Bitcoin’s theoretical foundations were laid with the publication of the Bitcoin whitepaper on Oct. 31, 2008, Jan. 3, 2009 heralds the first practical implementation of the world’s first cryptocurrency — the realization of a peer-to-peer and cryptographically secure system for transacting in digital cash.
As data from the Bitcoin Block Explorer tool indicates, block 0 — counted as block 1 in very early versions of the blockchain — was mined on Jan 3, 2009 at 1:15:05 p.m. EST, with a reward of 50 BTC. Today, the reward would be worth about $191,350, but at the time its value was inestimable — Bitcoin’s first ever recorded trading price was noted on Mar. 17, 2010, on the now-defunct trading platform bitcoinmarket.com, at a value of $0.003.
The cryptocurrency’s inventor — the still-mysterious person or collective identified only as Satoshi Nakamoto — embedded the hexadecimal code of the genesis block’s coinbase with an encrypted Times headline from Jan 3, 2009, referencing the bailout of the United Kingdom’s banks. When decoded, this covert nod to the economic and political context that gave the impetus for the coin’s invention reads as follows:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”
The aftermath of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in fall 2008 had been the tipping point for economic turmoil, global recession and, subsequently, the controversial “too big to fail” rationale for state intervention. In the midst of this context, Nakamoto’s innovation proposed a bold alternative — a disintermediated, non-state-controlled digital exchange and store of value — to the ailing incumbent system.
Ten years on, the mystery enshrouding Bitcoin’s inventor remains as impenetrable as ever. Those both within and without the crypto community began attempting to determine Nakamoto’s identity as early as October 2011, just a few months after the mysterious figure first went silent.
As of press time, Bitcoin is trading at $3,831 — up 127,699,900 percent since its first recorded traded value.