A Brief History of Bitcoin
Virtual currency has been a hot topic for over a decade now. With so much recent news, it can be difficult to fully understand the significance and overall purpose of this expanding market. The task is made easier, however, by knowing the history of the most widely-traded crypto on the market: Bitcoin.
Bitcoin was first introduced in 2008 as a decentralized currency without the need for a central bank or any intermediaries. It can be sent to and from users via the bitcoin network, a peer-to-peer network in which transactions are authenticated by nodes and recorded on a blockchain.
The inventor of Bitcoin remains a bit of a mystery. A paper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was posted on Oct. 31, 2008 to a cryptography mailing list with “Satoshi Nakamoto” as the author. However, Nakamoto has never revealed any personal information about himself and his identity has never been confirmed. This has led many to believe the name is a pseudonym for one or more creators.
In 2009, Bitcoin was first used after it was released as open-source software, when Nakamoto mined the starting block of the blockchain. This is referred to as the Genesis Block, and it contained the first 50 Bitcoins ever created. From there on, Bitcoin continued to be mined by other early contributors until 2010. That’s when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz made the first known commercial transaction using the cryptocurrency through the purchase of two Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins. (Fun fact: That amount of Bitcoin is worth over $300 million as of this writing).
Since then, Bitcoin has been traded hundreds of millions of times, with the earliest major transactions occurring in black markets. The largest of these was Silk Road, which traded nearly 10 million Bitcoins during its existence.
Because of black market use of cryptocurrency, regulation emerged from several countries. The People’s Bank of China initiated the most impactful regulations with three separate actions:
- In December of 2013, the bank prohibited financial institutions from using Bitcoin.
- In September of 2017, it issued a complete ban on the use of Bitcoin
- In June of 2021, it implemented a crackdown on major cryptocurrency miners.
After each of these instances, the price of Bitcoin halved. In spite of these regulations, however, the price of Bitcoin is still supported and trending upward thanks to institutions and countries allowing the use of cryptocurrency. The two most recent examples can be found through the Tala, Circle, and Stellar Development Foundations’ partnership with Visa, as well as El Salvador’s legislation to make Bitcoin legal tender.
News on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies evolves on a daily basis. In fact, El Salvador’s update on legal use of Bitcoin occurred just two weeks before this writing.
Because of the crypto market’s highly volatile nature in nearly all aspects, we recommend that you consult your advisor before investing in any virtual currency. They can help ensure correct record-keeping, decision-making and security to protect yourself and your money from sudden price fluctuations and updates to regulation.
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