Discover the key dates behind Bitcoin and the entire asset class in this crypto timeline.
Some say cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are a trend or a fad. They’ve only been in existence for a little over a decade. But, the genesis of cryptocurrency stretches further back than 2008.
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American computer scientist and cryptographer David Chaum proposes the idea of digital cash secured with a cryptographic signature in his 1983 paper Blind signatures for untraceable payments.
In 1989, he founds DigiCash, which creates eCash. Although Chaum later leaves DigiCash, the company forms agreements with traditional financial institutions like Deutsche Bank.
The term “cryptocurrency” is established to describe the flow of digital money.
Crypto derives from the Greek “kryptos” meaning “hidden” or “secret”. The word ‘currency’ devices from the Latin word “currere” translating as “to run”.
David Chaum’s former company DigiCash goes bankrupt.
Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, and Max Levchin found Paypal under the name Confinity. In 2000, the company merged with Elon Musk’s competitor X.com. In 2001, the company renames itself Paypal. The electronic payments company goes public in 2002.
The global economic crisis ensues, triggering demand for currencies and monetary instruments less dependent on traditional financial institutions, gatekeepers and governments, and the concept of a central bank.
Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto cites the great financial crisis as an inspiration for cryptocurrency. He references the bank bailouts in the genesis, or the first, Bitcoin block.
Satoshi Nakamoto releases the white paper Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Nakamoto may represent one or a group of individuals behind the cryptocurrency. The domain name Bitcoin.org is registered.
The abstract reads:
A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.Satoshi Nakamoto
The first Bitcoin is minted. American developer Hal Finney received 10 Bitcoin from Nakamoto in the first peer-to-peer transaction of its type. Finney subsequently tweets about Bitcoin, saying “Running bitcoin”.
Over the next year, Nakamoto mines about a million bitcoins. Only 21 million will ever exist.
As computers get faster and the total computing power applied to creating bitcoins increases, the difficulty increases proportionally to keep the total new production constant. Thus, it is known in advance how many new bitcoins will be created every year in the future. Coins have to get initially distributed somehow, and a constant rate seems like the best formula.Satoshi Nakamoto
New Liberty Standard, the first cryptocurrency exchange is launched. At the time, $1 is worth approximately 1309.03 BTC.
Satoshi Nakamoto disappears. Some suggest he died. His last message to followers argues against WikiLeaks accepting Bitcoin as a payment.
“No, don’t ‘bring’ it on. I make this appeal to WikiLeaks to not try to use Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a small beta community in its infancy. You would not stand to get more than pocket change, and the heat you would bring would likely destroy us at this stage.”Satoshi Nakamoto
Florida programmer Laszlo Hanyecz orders two large pizzas and pays for them with 10,000 Bitcoin.
Hanyecz tells his local pizzeria, “I’ll pay 10,000 Bitcoins for a couple of pizzas. I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that”.
It’s the first commercial transaction for this cryptocurrency. The event later becomes known as Bitcoin Pizza Day. Years later, Hanyecz says he’s “no regrets.”
Programmer Jed McCaleb launches a cryptocurrency exchange under the domain name Mt. Gox in Japan. He sold the site in 2011 to french developer Mark Karpelès.
McCaleb later co-founds companies Ripple and Stellar, which develop new cryptocurrencies under the same names (XRP), (XLM).
Litecoin, one of the earliest successful alt-coins, launches using similar blockchain technology. Some argue if Bitcoin is gold, then Litecoin is silver. However, Litecoin fails to keep up with Bitcoin’s market cap over the coming years.
Coinbase is founded by former Airbnb engineer Brian Amstrong and former Goldman Sachs trader Fred Ehrsam, with the support of Y-Combinator.
Ehrsam later leaves the company to found cryptocurrency and Web 3.0 investment firm Paradigm.
Proof-of-stake is proposed as a more efficient, faster, and environmentally friendly alternative to proof-of-work, the blockchain technology currency underpinning Bitcoin. Many newer currencies or alt-coins, including Ethereum, adopt or plan to adopt variations of proof-of-stake.
The cryptocurrency Ripple launches. Critics claim it’s less decentralised than Bitcoin.
Early Bitcoin buyers begin speculating on the value of the cryptocurrency.
In an alcohol—inspired update, GameKyuubi posts “I AM HODLING. It’s because I’m a bad trader and I KNOW I’M A BAD TRADER” on a Bitcointalk forum.
This typo later becomes known as “hold on for dear life”.
Engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer launch Dogecoin as a joke or meme, after a dog.
Pavol Rusnák, Marek Palatinus and Alena Vránová founds SatoshiLabs and hardware wallet company Trezor in Prague. It develops hardware wallets so users can secure custody over their cryptocurrency. Competitor Ledger is founded in France the following year.
Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy and reports over 850,000 Bitcoins belonging to customers are missing. Hackers make off with cryptocurrency worth approximately $450 million.
The hack leads to the mantra: Led to “Not your keys, not your crypto”
Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, founded by Jesse Powell, launches response to the Mt.Gox hack.
Hal Finney dies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. His remains are crypto-preserved by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.
Coinbase claims it has over one million users worldwide.
Digital artist Kevin McCoy minted the first-known NFT “Quantum”.
Joseph Lubin founds ConsenSys a New York-based company that develops decentralised software on the Ethereum blockchain.
Ethereum is launched by programmer Vitalik Buterin, with the support of other founders like Gavin Wood and Charles Hoskinson (who would later found Cardano).
Buterin says he was an avid World of Warcraft player and was inspired to develop Ethereum after Blizzard nerfed his warlock’s Siphon Life spell.
On his blog, Buterin wrote, “I cried myself to sleep and on that day I realized what horrors centralized services can bring.”
Other currencies begin using Ethereum for initial coin offerings, a way of attracting funding from everyday investors. Many scam coins launch over the coming years.
Terra Nullius (translating as a land belonging to no one), an early NFT project, launches on the Ethereum blockchain.
European Bitcoin exchange Bitstamp closes for a few days following a security hack.
Bitcoin starts the year near $434.
The software wallet MetaMask is launched by ConsenSys Software. Later, it becomes popular with the NFT community as means of trading non-fungible tokens.
Crypto exchange Binance is founded by Changpeng Zhao in China. The company later moves out of China.
CryptoKitties, one of the earlier successful Ethereum-based NFT projects, launches. This game subsequently congests the blockchain.
The Bitcoin price hits a landmark price: $10,000. Mania ensues. Phrases like “Wen moon?” pop up all over Twitter about more speculative cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin hits an all-time high of $19,497.40.
Ethereum-based NFT CryptoPunks launches for free.
Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah launch the NFT and digital goods marketplace OpenSea. The following year, OpenSea receives $2.1 million in funding from Y-Combinator.
In a precursor to Metaverse games, 3D virtual world Decentraland is launched.
Despite a Bitcoin crash, some marketplaces launch future contracts for the currency.
Japan enables Bitcoin as a legal payment method.
Goldman Sachs announces the opening of a Bitcoin trading desk. Cue institutional money.
Many claim Bitcoin is full of hype and a speculative bubble waiting to burst.
Microsoft, like many other web 2.0 companies, launches a blockchain service.
Japanese exchange Coincheck is hacked for over $534 million, in one of the largest cryptocurrency heists of all time.
Institutional investors begin buying cryptocurrency in earnest.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweets about Dogecoin. Meme coins become a thing.
2.0 companies, launches a blockchain service.
Facing much backlash, Facebook announces plans to develop a digital currency Libra. It later becomes known as Diem. Meta cancels the project in 2022
The crypto market bubble bursts. Bitcoin crashes to near $3000 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The generative art project ArtBlocks launches. It later curates or launches bluechip NFTS like Chromie Squiggles and Dimitri Cherniak’s The Eternal Pump.
US software company MicroStrategy buys BTC and becomes a significant holder over the coming years. CEO Michael Saylor, once a skeptic of cryptocurrency, turns into a staunch Bitcoin bull.
Centralized cryptocurrency companies like BlockFi and decentralized cryptocurrency platforms like AAVE enable users to borrow against their crypto.
Binance is investigated for irregularities in the United States and stops trading in the United Kingdom.
El Salvador accepts Bitcoin as legal tender, and faces much criticism from the International Monetary Fund.
CyberKongz mints in March.
Bored Ape Yacht Club, soon to be popular with celebs and NFT
influencers mints in April.
Coinbase lists on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
Digital artist Beeple, aka Mike Winkelmann, sells the NFT Everydays: The First 5000 Days for $69 million dollars via Christie’s auction house. An NFT bubble ensues. Gas wars ensue. Celebrities like Eminem and Snoop Dogg begin using NFTS on Twitter or advocating for the creation of digital personas.
Facebook rebrands to Meta.
Bitcoin arguably goes mainstream, with companies like MasterCard and Visa supporting it. Holders can even use one to buy a Tesla.
Microsoft purchases Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. Analysts claim it’s Microsoft’s Metaverse play.
OpenSea claims over one million users worldwide and receives a £13.3 billion valuation. “We saw the NFT ecosystem explode last year, with OpenSea’s transaction volume increasing over 600x in 2021,” says Devin Finzer, co-founder and CEO of OpenSea.
Coinbase, which now claims over 89 million users worldwide, is set to launch its NFT marketplace.