genesis block

Bitcoin’s Quirky Genesis Block Turns Eight Years Old Today

Today is the eighth anniversary of the bitcoin genesis block, and a lot has happened since the digital currency’s birth. The genesis block was the starting point for the bitcoin blockchain on its path to becoming a revolutionary network for peer-to-peer transfers of value.

Also read: Meet Tumblebit: The Unlinkable Payment Hub

The Genesis Block

On January 3rd, 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto unleashed the genesis block into the wild. The genesis block contains the first 50 BTC block reward and cannot be spent by anyone. The bitcoin software was released on Sourceforge the web-based service for open source developers. The original Satoshi client was compiled using Microsoft’s visual studio and is written in the programming language C++. Satoshi began building the code in 2007 and was the only developer that made software changes to the bitcoin protocol up until mid-2010. 

The first block also includes text from the UK Times newspaper saying “03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks,” a reference to bitcoin’s birth-date and possibly mocking fractional reserve banking. With Satoshi’s creation, the total number of bitcoins in circulation will never exceed 21 million BTC.

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Raw hex version of the genesis block with bank bailout message. 1/3/09

The genesis block has received 1,073 transactions since its inception, with random people adding over 16 BTC to this unspendable address. No one knows why the genesis block was created to be unspendable, as there is no explanation in the Satoshi source code version 0.1. Additionally, the genesis block was hard-coded, and nearly all altcoins derived from bitcoin have this initial unspendable block reward.

Satoshi explained that if the bitcoin’s design was to remain static, certain rules like capped supply, the hard-coded genesis block, mining difficulty and reward halvings mustn’t be changed. To this day the design of the bitcoin protocol is important because it’s the base foundation of the entire network.

The nature of Bitcoin is such that once version 0.1 was released, the core design was set in stone for the rest of its lifetime.

Bitcoin Has Created New Millionaires

Jarred Kenna is one of bitcoin's millionaires and an early investor.
Jarred Kenna is one of bitcoin’s millionaires and an early investor.

Within the bitcoin network, there is the well-known rich list of addresses holding vast amounts of bitcoin. The list hasn’t changed much over the years, and some of the wallets are believed to be owned by Satoshi. The biggest holder in bitcoin has 124,956 BTC and commands 0.7778% of the coins in circulation. Only three addresses contain over 100 thousand BTC, and the rest contain 79 thousand or less.

Some transactions, sent to wallets believed to be owned by bitcoin’s founder, contain messages asking Mr. Nakamoto for donations. However, without tracking transactions down to when Satoshi mined his bitcoin, it is hard to calculate which addresses are owned by the anonymous creator.

Other interesting holders over the years include the U.S. Marshals wallet, which contained bitcoins seized from the Silk Road. Other notable wallets include Lazlo’s pizza exchange or the largest transaction ever that transferred over 500 thousand BTC back in 2011.

Another interesting fact is since bitcoin has once again crossed the $1,000 per BTC range there are definitely new sets of cryptocurrency millionaires. For instance, Tim Draper managed to gain nearly $13 million by purchasing bitcoins from the U.S. Marshals. Other notable bitcoin millionaires include Charlie Shrem, Yifu Guo, Jered Kenna, Peter Vessenes, Bruce Wagner, and more.

It’s safe to assume there are probably a bunch of new people entering into this realm of wealth as bitcoin have been dispersed over the years.

10 Interesting Bitcoin Facts

The past eight years has seen bitcoin mature into a billion dollar economy operating without central banks, corporations, or government entities. There are many interesting facts about the network and it’s surrounding community and industry. Here’s a list of ten facts you may not know about when it comes to the history of bitcoin.

  • Satoshi Nakamoto may have mined over 1 million coins during his years within the bitcoin community.
  • An estimated 64% of bitcoins have remained untouched in wallets since bitcoin’s inception.
  • It’s estimated that 5% of bitcoins in existence had passed through the Silk Road marketplace
  • During the holiday season of 2013, a New York resident sold his home for $800,000 in bitcoin
  • Satoshi Nakamoto sent the first transaction to developer Hal Finney on January 12, 2009
  • For the first 12 months of existence, users could obtain roughly 1,300 hundred BTC for $1 USD
  • Denial-of-Service (DOS) attacks can affect the bitcoin network, but there are built-in protections
  • Bitcoin is not anonymous. Every transaction can be followed to its original origin. It can be pseudo-anonymous as long as a user takes the necessary steps of obfuscation.
  • The number of computer lines of code within the bitcoin protocol is 31,000
  • Bitcoin has reached parity with the U.S. dollar, one troy ounce of silver, and one troy ounce of gold over the years. The end of 2016 shows the cryptocurrency is once again coming close to parity with one troy ounce of gold.

The eighth anniversary of the genesis block is a significant landmark on bitcoin’s timeline, but the cryptocurrency is still a nascent technology. It will be interesting to see how the next eight years turns out for the decentralized digital asset.

Whatever the case may be Bitcoin has been a watershed moment in history and remains one of the most innovative technologies since the creation of the internet.

What do you think about the eight year anniversary of bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, and Pixabay. 


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