Today marks 11 years since Bitcoin’s “Genesis Block”—the first block in its blockchain—was created, which sparked the cryptocurrency revolution.
The Genesis Block contained a Times newspaper headline that read: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” Considering that Satoshi Nakamoto—the unknown, pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin—was creating a new form of money, it is possible the headline was deliberately chosen to symbolise a movement away from the current financial system at the time.
What’s unique about the Genesis Block was that it wasn’t “mined”—the process of creating new bitcoin—but was rather hardcoded into the initial software. It is important because all newly mined bitcoin blocks contain cryptographic pointers that point back to previous blocks, leading all the way back to the Genesis Block. Since it wasn’t mined, the 50 bitcoin reward that the block created is forever unspendable.
Six days after the first block was created, on January 9, the first “normal” block was mined. The gap of six days between the blocks—instead of the usual 10 minutes—has also brought up many questions. But despite the puzzle, once blocks started mining the Bitcoin blockchain has continued to run with 99.98% uptime.
According to a pseudonymous Bitcoiner—fitting given that Bitcoin itself was created by a pseudonymous individual—on Twitter, (and confirmed on data sites including Blockchain) Bitcoin has seen 488 million transactions since it was created. These were spread across 600,000 blocks kept running by 10,000 nodes.
In that time, the bitcoin price has risen from its first recorded price point at $0.008 per bitcoin to a peak of $20,000 before falling to its current value of $7,330. Even at today’s price, that’s a growth of nine million percent—putting bitcoin far ahead of other traditional stocks.
As a result, bitcoin now has a market cap of $133 billion. It even makes up 68.4% of the entire cryptocurrency market, valued at a total of $194 billion.
Bitcoin now only sparked an entire generation of cryptocurrencies and a variety of radical crowdfunding ideas—from ICOs to STOs—but it got the whole world talking about blockchain and digital currencies. Blockchain is now the buzzword of the century, with major companies using it from FedEx to Santander to JP Morgan. Countries around the world are building their own digital currencies in order to match potential competition from private companies doing so. And despite all of this, we still don’t know who created it. Funny that.