10 Days That Shook the World of Bitcoin
When Bitcoin’s history is written, the following events will command a chapter apiece. Bitcoin is a creeping revolution that does not lend itself to listicles, and thus any such attempt is destined to fall short. What follows, therefore, is a potted history of a transformative technology whose greatest moments have yet to come. In chronological order, these are the days that shook Bitcoin to its core.
Also read: Cypherpunk Essentials: A Beginner’s Guide to Crypto Privacy
Satoshi’s Final Bow, December 12, 2010
One of the most significant days in Bitcoin happened before most people had even heard of it. Dec. 12, 2010 didn’t startle the community at the time, but the date would go down as the most pivotal since the mining of the genesis block. That’s the day when Satoshi Nakamoto composed his final Bitcointalk post and then quietly checked out, never to be publicly heard of again.
One day prior, he’d objected to Wikileaks using bitcoin to circumvent its Visa blockade, writing: “It would have been nice to get this attention in any other context. Wikileaks has kicked the hornet’s nest, and the swarm is headed towards us.” We will likely never know why Satoshi left, other than the vague message he dictated to Mike Hearn in his final email on Apr. 23, 2011: “I’ve moved on to other things.”
Silk Road Bust, October 2, 2013
It’s hard to convey just how big of a role Silk Road played in mainstreaming Bitcoin, and how indebted we are to a mild-mannered pacifist now serving life without parole for the crime of being a tech visionary. (Okay, and for creating a market where you could buy every illegal drug under the sun.) Oct. 2, 2013, is the day Ross Ulbricht’s ingenious creation fell, when an FBI bust saw the 29-year-old wrestled to the ground in a San Francisco library as he was logged in to the server.
The familiar Silk Road login screen gave way to the FBI’s smug seizure notice and bitcoin shed 25 percent of its value, falling to $109 in the aftermath. BTC has since recovered 60 times over, but for those who supported Silk Road and its swashbuckling captain Dread Pirate Roberts, things have never been the same since.
Bitcoin Hits $1,000, November 27, 2013
There are many all-time highs that might warrant inclusion in this list – BTC hitting $100, just seven months earlier, being one:
NEVAR FORGET. pic.twitter.com/bfaikQnGgW
— Bitcoin 101 (@Bitcoin101) April 1, 2013
That day felt epic, but $1,000 was entering the realm of fantasy. Bitcoiners hadn’t dreamed the milestone might be reached so soon. It was only later that Mt Gox’s role in inflating BTC with the aid of its Willy trading bot came to light. This knowledge has done nothing, however, to dampen the memories of $1,000 bitcoin sticking two fingers up at the establishment.
Bitcoinity.org was where everyone checked the price of BTC in the age before Blockfolio, widgets and push notifications. When bitcoin hit $1,000, the site moved the decimal point three places to the left because the USD price was taking up too much screen space.
The Death of Mt Gox, February 24, 2014
Despite five years having passed since Bitcoin’s Titanic event, and restitution finally made, the sinking of Mt Gox is still a sore point for early adopters who lost funds in the insolvent exchange. It had been evident for weeks that something was wrong with Gox, but its spectacular collapse still induced shock and anger followed by lingering acrimony. The demise of Mt Gox plunged bitcoin into a downward spiral it took years to recover from.
Craig Wright Is Satoshi Nakamoto, May 2, 2016
Many people have identified or been doxxed as Satoshi Nakamoto, but only two incidents gained global attention. Newsweek’s false dox of Dorian Nakamoto in March 2014 was noteworthy, but it pales in significance to the day Craig Wright stepped forward to claim the mantle, after Wired had first suggested the connection a few months earlier.
Gavin Andresen verified the digital signature, mainstream media swooped and Craig Wright basked in the adulation. Then the narrative began to fall apart. The evidence linking Wright to Satoshi was quickly debunked, turning Wright into a pariah dubbed “Faketoshi.” While a dwindling band of followers still believes Wright may have been involved in Bitcoin’s creation, few grant his claim to be Satoshi himself any credence.
The DAO, June 17, 2016
Like the Silk Road bust, The DAO technically wasn’t about Bitcoin. And yet the collapse of Ethereum’s flagship project, following the theft of $50 million in ether from its smart contract, reverberated throughout the entire industry, prompting Vitalik Buterin to assemble an online crisis meeting with exchange bosses in a bid to limit the fallout. “OK can you guys stop trading,” he implored and a meme was born. Ethereum eventually recovered, but not before a chain rollback and a hard fork. Bitcoin maximalism gained some new supporters that day, many of whom have remained wary of ETH ever since.
The Fall of BTC-e, July 25, 2017
When Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece in July of 2017 at the behest of the U.S. Justice Department, the market didn’t even blink. By then, the Russian’s shady exchange had long ceased to be relevant, but its importance in the history of cryptocurrency remains significant.
BTC-e was where traders cut their teeth. It was a no-KYC, no-questions-asked outpost, the last wild west town of its kind. It was where the original pump and dumps were orchestrated, led by pseudonymous kids with names like Fontas manipulating shitcoins with names like peercoin, long before shitcoin was even a word. It’s also where a vast chunk of Mt Gox’s stolen bitcoins were allegedly laundered. BTC-e was a den of iniquity and it had to go, but that doesn’t mean its legendary trollbox won’t be missed by those who frequented it at its peak.
The Birth of Bitcoin Cash, August 1, 2017
The events surrounding Segwit’s lock-in, on July 21, 2017, and Bitcoin’s hard fork, less than a fortnight later, were momentous for all kinds of reasons. It had been unclear, in the run-up, whether enough miners would signal support for Segwit, but in the end the proposal comfortably passed. The sense of uncertainty was palpable, exacerbated by apocalyptic warnings, in the build-up, of fatal chain splits and market meltdown. In the end, Bitcoin became two, Segwit activated, and while the factions remain as polarized as ever, both parties got something out of the deal at least: Segwit for small blockers and Bitcoin Cash for the big.
The Cashening, December 19, 2017
For a few crazy hours last December, it looked as if Bitcoin Cash might actually cause one of the greatest upsets in the history of cryptocurrency and become the dominant Bitcoin chain by market cap. In the end, the trading frenzy, fueled by zero-fee South Korean exchanges, Coinbase botching its BCH listing announcement, and a good deal of FOMO, The Cashening lost steam around the time the price of BCH reached 0.25 BTC. A lot of cryptocurrency was won and lost on the internet that day, as the bitcoin brigades put ideological differences aside and traded like their lives depended on it.
$20,000 BTC, December 17, 2017
The weighted average for bitcoin’s all-time high officially stands at $20,089 according to Onchainfx, though on some exchanges the cryptocurrency stopped just shy of the 20k mark before backing down. Through November and December of 2017, every day was filled with giddiness, over-exuberance, ridiculous headlines and all the other signs that, in hindsight, pointed towards a market that was way overbought. It was a fun time though, for coiners, nocoiners and bemused onlookers alike. We may never see such a frenzy again … until the next bull run that is.
Bitcoin Core Fees Hit Record High, December 22, 2017
One of the reasons why Bitcoin hard-forked in the summer of 2017 was due to disagreement over increasing the block size. Blockstream and its cadre of Core developers favored a maximum of 2MB blocks, despite the fact that the network was overloaded and fees were getting ridiculous. While Bitcoin Cash provided a solution for those who favored larger blocks, Bitcoin Core doggedly stuck to its path, culminating in average fees hitting $55 on Dec. 22, and a median high of $34.10 a day later.
What other historic days in Bitcoin’s history deserved to have made this list? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.