Bitcoin Personalities: Artforz and the GPU Arms Race – Mining Bitcoin News


Bitcoin Personalities: Artforz and the GPU Arms Race

In the early days of Bitcoin, things were quite a bit different than they are now. It was just beginning within all aspects of the decentralized currency’s infrastructure. In late 2009 through 2011, there were a lot of unique individuals working with the Bitcoin code and its environment. Some of whom we don’t see much today. One of these earliest known members of the early bitcoin crew was a coding genius called ArtForz, who was quite an interesting character to those who followed his existence.

ArtForz was a coder who was the first to implement various technologies to the cryptocurrency world, creating new forms of mining and unique altcoins. Additionally, the use of Scrypt mining was introduced to cryptocurrencies by Artforz, as well as a number of altcoin creations. ArtForz is mostly known for his early use of GPU mining within the Bitcoin mining environment, even when Satoshi warned against its use.

Also read: Bitcoin has More Value Than Fiat Currency

“We should have a gentleman’s agreement to postpone the GPU arms race as long as we can for the good of the network. It’s much easier to get new users up to speed if they don’t have to worry about GPU drivers and compatibility. It’s nice how anyone with just a CPU can compete fairly equally right now.”

— Satoshi Nakamoto, December 2009

ArtForz appeared as a pseudonym on BitcoinTalk in July of 2010. Combing through the numerous amounts of forum discussions show a wide array of his work. He was a regularly-seen developer for a while in the early days of Bitcoin (2010-2012). ArtForz has been claimed by some to be one of the first people to mine the cryptocurrency with GPUs using a code he created himself. However, it has been reported by Nathaniel Popper’s book, “Digital Gold,” that Laszlo Hanyecz, the man who traded 10,000 BTC for two pizzas, actually GPU mined Bitcoin two months prior to ArtForz. Despite these claims, it’s still disputed who really came first with the GPU arms race in Bitcoin mining.

When ArtForz entered the Bitcoin scene, he took his coding knowledge to the next level within the development atmosphere. Changing the mining paradigm in the crypto world forever, ArtForz was seemingly the first to create an entire “farm” of GPU miners. “ArtFarm,” as it was called back then, used his private code to mine thousands of bitcoin back in 2010. This effort supposedly controlled around a quarter of the BTC network’s hashrate at the time. ArtForz’s farm, consisting of 24 Radeon 5970s, reaped a ton of bitcoin during his entire mining experience.

ArtForz’s mining rigs were the talk of the Bitcoin town for quite some time during this timeframe. On July 25, 2010, ArtForz said that he mined 1,700 BTC in six days. Within that week’s estimate, the coder controlled 4% of the hashrate that week alone. Holding this high percentage of the network, ArtForz became a pretty controversial leader in the space.

The interesting pseudonymous character claimed that his mining farm was more efficient than any GPU miners that existed at the time. It was claimed in October of 2010 that ArtForz controlled roughly 20-30% of the network’s computing power. Months later, on August 25, 2011, the “ArtFarm” was said by its creator to cover less than 1% of the power due to advances in mining from certain individuals and groups.

ip.bitcointalk.orgWith the ability to build a small scale mining farm, ArtForz was one of the first to technically advance the mining arms race. He not only used his clout to shape the industry, but found quite a lot of the earliest known bitcoins in existence. On September 23, 2010, ArtForz, claimed to have mined 26,650 Bitcoins over the course of nine weeks and had sold 2/3 of this particular stash shortly after. He also used FPGAs and early structured ASICs that are now less common in the mining industry. Now bitcoin mines are powered by far more advanced ASICs and gigantic warehouses with low-electric costs.

The first mining pool was created by Marek Palatinus (Slush) on November 27, 2010. Since this date, pools, and organizations have created the largest consolidation of mining within the Bitcoin environment. The following invention of ASIC mining was at the forefront of discovery after this time, and little did we know it was about to lay quite the force on the mining industry just as GPU miners did.

ASIC technology transpired in the public market roughly in June 2012, which became the powerhouse of Bitcoin mining. Four startup companies raced to be the winner of the first business to deploy these miners to the public. Butterfly Labs and Avalon were two companies that produced the first ASICs publicly. Although Butterfly Labs was one of the first announcers of this technology being sold, its units did not hit the open market for quite some time. The first to publicly distribute these machines was Avalon, which sent the first batch of 300 mining rigs to the open market. Avalon founder Yifu Guo was pleased with the company’s ability to beat out ASICMiner, Butterfly Labs, and the now-defunct bASIC with their product delivery.

multiple-gpu-password-crackerAfter this time, many mining businesses and pools have grown into enormous organizations. With ArtForz being the start of these mining farms, history shows that the race began quite early on.

The progression from CPU to GPU to FPGAs and then structured ASICs had shown that innovators and their newly-invented tools are invaluable to the crypto-network. With ArtForz’s implementation of Scrypt mining, used as a new proof-of-work mechanism in the mining realm, he again changed the game. ArtForz first created Tenebrix, which was highly controversial due to its premine. The premine was supposed to be used for mixing purposes and was said to be “unspendable.” Despite this claim, many believed the opposite.

The mining scheme was said to have also been GPU-resistant, which turned out to be false. Groups of miners found a way to mine it through GPU with a special technique. Some accused him of making the particular Scrypt scheme to simple for coders to break.

Supposedly, around this time, ArtForz became so dismayed by this weakness and the accusations, that he left the cryptocurrency scene forever. This reasoning for his leaving is highly speculated across forums, and may not be true. It has also been said that ArtForz has created new identities over time and could be still among us. Many pseudonyms — such as Satoshi Nakamoto, Sunny King, and ArtForz — have existed in crypto-land, bringing great innovation to the space.

“SHA256 is not going to be broken by Moore’s law computational improvements in our lifetimes. If it’s going to get broken, it’ll be by some breakthrough cracking method. An attack that could so thoroughly vanquish SHA256 to bring it within computationally tractable range has a good chance of clobbering SHA512 too.” — Satoshi Nakamoto, July 16, 2010

Of course, there was a lot of infighting and competition in the early days of mining, resulting in Satoshi asking for a “gentlemen’s agreement.” However, this conflict produced an extraordinary amount of products and innovative ideas that have shaped the Bitcoin environment. The competition and unique individuals still exist today, yet not many are as anonymous as they once were. ArtForz was a unique individual from Bitcoin’s past operating with a pseudonym that has kind of been forgotten, despite the fact that his concepts and ideas changed Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies forever.

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artforz, Bitcoin mining, Satoshi Nakamoto

What do you think about ArtForz? Let us know in the comments below.

Jamie Redman

Jamie Redman is the News Lead at News and a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open-source code, and decentralized applications. Since September 2015, Redman has written more than 6,000 articles for News about the disruptive protocols emerging today.

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