From Novelty to Madness: The Short History of Bitcoin
Back in the day, there was just one form of currency in our world – “fiat money” is a term used in reference to any type of currency issued by a state and declared by a government to be legal. But a paper attributed to a mysterious figure (or group) known as Satoshi Nakamoto changed all that: called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, it detailed a peer-to-peer network to generate a “system for electronic transactions without relying on trust”. The first open-source Bitcoin client was released soon after, in January 2009 – and that’s how it all started. What followed, was a long and adventurous journey that led to the current situation of cryptocurrency. In time, Bitcoin started to become well-known among early adopters. The value of the BTC was far below its current levels – back in the day, 10,000 Bitcoins bought one user two Papa Johns pizzas, including delivery.
In 2011, other crypto coins started to emerge based on Bitcoin’s open-source code. At the same time, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, a major non-profit fighting for civil liberties in the digital world, started accepting Bitcoin donations, and so did WikiLeaks a few months later. The currency started to spread, leading to the emergence of the Bitcoin Foundation created to accelerate the global growth of the currency through “standardization, protection, and promotion of the open source protocol”. At this time, many thought of Bitcoin as not being a legitimate currency, mostly due to the lack of regulation and its peer-to-peer nature. Around the same time, the first Bitcoin online casino appeared, offering players with no access to regulated online gambling outlets an alternative.
As years passed, Bitcoin became widespread – especially after the emergence of online processors like BitInstant and Mt. Gox emerged. Legitimate online services like OkCupid and Foodler began to accept it as a form of payment, and this did a lot for its recognition. The first Bitcoin ATM was launched on 29 October 2013 in Vancouver, BC, Canada, allowing clients to buy and sell Bitcoins at a coffee shop. And soon, the currency shed most of its bad name after the value of legitimate transactions outgrew the payments for “sin” activities, in 2016. And what happened next… is recent history.
The exchange rate of Bitcoins has constantly grown over the years. Upon their launch, they were worth next to nothing. Between February and April 2011, one BTC was worth one USD. The following years have seen ups and downs of its exchange rate, with highs of up to $1,150 and lows of $340. Then, in May 2017, it started to grow, breaking the $5,000 barrier in September, and growing past $17,900 by the 15th of December 2017.
Bitcoin is one of the most discussed and least understood online phenomena of the 21st century. Will it disappear or will it become the money of the future? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.