It’s almost difficult to believe that later in 2022, Bitcoin will celebrate its 14th “birthday.” Over the last 14 years, Bitcoin has made great strides, growing ridiculously and setting itself up to usurp the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Although Bitcoin has been around for what seems to be forever, the month of January has been important over the years with several historic events and milestones in Bitcoin’s past.
2009: THE DAWN OF BITCOIN
On January 3, 2009, months after publishing the Bitcoin white paper, Satoshi Nakamoto made history when he mined the Bitcoin genesis block, signing it with the message, “The Times Jan/03/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks,” officially launching the Bitcoin network and highlighting some of the financial turmoil that inspired his invention of Bitcoin.
A mere six days later, on January 9, the first Bitcoin (0.1) client was released, enabling users to perform Bitcoin transactions and paving way for the first Bitcoin transaction to take place on January 12, when Satoshi Nakamoto sent Hal Finney 10 BTC on block number 170.
2010: THE TRUE FIRST BITCOIN PURCHASE?
Nearly everyone knows the story of Laszlo Hanyecz who famously paid 10,000 BTC for two large pizzas in May 2010, and it has largely been accepted as the first “real world” purchase using bitcoin. However on January 24, 2010, a BitcoinTalk forum user, Sabunir, posted a thread on the forum titled “A newb's test - anyone want to buy a picture for $1?” where he asked if anyone wanted to purchase a wallpaper for $1 in bitcoin.
He posted his wallet address and a mere month later, two freshly mined batches of 50 BTC were sent to his address, which may very well have been someone “purchasing” his wallpaper, a simple 1,280 x 960 image that is no longer available on the forum post. If this purchase did in fact happen, it would be the true first “real world” purchase using bitcoin and another milestone for the digital currency we know today.
2011: BITCOIN FOR NONPROFITS
On January 20, 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) made history by becoming the first nonprofit organization to accept donations in bitcoin, paving the way for many others in the years to come. By June 2010, they would stop accepting donations, right before WikiLeaks started accepting bitcoin donations, but they would resume accepting bitcoin again by May 2013.
Another historic occurrence happened in January 2011, when three people each bought 4 BTC at a rate of Z$100,000,000,000,000, that is one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollars using an OTC service. To this day, it continues to be the largest ever single numeric value traded for bitcoin.
2012: MADE FOR TV
By 2012, Bitcoin had started making waves across the world, and it was featured on “The Good Wife,” season 3, episode 13, titled “Bitcoin for Dummies.” It saw a lawyer being defended for not revealing the identity of his client, who supposedly created Bitcoin. The episode, which aired on January 15, recorded 9.45 million U.S. viewers watching when a single bitcoin cost just $6.90. It was first instance of Bitcoin being featured in the mainstream media outside of news broadcasts.
2013: ENTERING THE STARTUP SCENE
Three years after going live, and nearly five years after its initial introduction, investors started taking notice of Bitcoin-related startups. On January 7, BitPay, a Bitcoin payment service provider founded in 2011, became the first Bitcoin-related startup to raise venture capital funding with a $510,000 funding round. It would raise an additional $2 million later that year.
2014: GAMES AND GAMBLING
By January 2014, things were heating up as more and more companies started accepting payments in bitcoin. Zynga, the mobile developer behind everyone’s favorite mobile games such as FarmVille, announced plans on January 4 to allow users to make in-game purchases using bitcoin. Initially, it was limited to only seven titles while the company tested payments using BitPay’s infrastructure.
Later that month, on January 21, two Las Vegas hotels and casinos announced plans to start accepting bitcoin in select parts of their properties. The D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and Golden Gate Hotel and Casino became the first properties in Sin City to start accepting bitcoin, long before it became the mainstream currency it is today.
Interestingly, the February 2014 physical copy of Bitcoin Magazine, written in January 2014, would later be exhibited in the National Museum of American History by the Smithsonian Institute.
2015: RISE AND FALL
Bitcoin kicked 2015 off quite turbulently, seeing one of its largest monthly declines at the time with a 30.9% dumping during the course of January 2015. Not all was bad back then, however, Coinbase’s $75 million Series C was noted as the largest fundraising for a Bitcoin-related company at the time, launching it’s Coinbase Exchange later that month.
At the time, Coinbase focused exclusively on Bitcoin and had helped companies such as Overstock, Dell, Expedia, Dish Network and Time Inc. start accepting bitcoin payments. It would also partner with payment providers Stripe, Braintree and PayPal to process bitcoin payments.
2016: FORKING MADNESS
January 2016 saw the first of many failed Bitcoin forks being introduced with Bitcoin Classic entering the ring. It wouldn’t last long but would inspire many others to launch Bitcoin forks, most of them as part of a quick cash grab. Bitcoin, as the only true Bitcoin, would continue to see tremendous growth and adoption over the years to come. Interestingly, the Bitcoin network hash rate would also end up exceeding 1 exahash per sec for the first time in January 2016.
2017: THE START OF A BULL RUN
January 2017 started off an overly bullish year, which saw bitcoin surpassing $1,000 for the first time in three years; it would later run to just under $20,000 before a dramatic decline in late 2017.
2018: GOVERNMENTS ATTACK BITCOIN
After its dramatic surge in late 2017, January 2018 saw one of the largest global governmental FUD campaigns against Bitcoin. During that month the banks and governments of Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia, South Korea and Tajikistan strongly opposed bitcoin as a currency.
More countries would follow in the months thereafter and, by the end of January 2018, Facebook would ban all cryptocurrency-related ads from its global platform. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t all doom and gloom back then as Samsung partnered with a Chinese firm to start creating chips and semiconductors for Bitcoin miners, a Swiss municipality started accepting bitcoin payments and the Peter Thiel Foundation bought bitcoin.
2019 (AND BEYOND)
After the dramatic fall at the end of 2017 and early 2018, Bitcoin hardly left the public eye. Instead, the cautious investor slowly accumulated more and more, while bitcoin went on ups and downs throughout the remainder of 2018 and most of 2019. Leading up to the eventual halving in May 2020, Bitcoin started a dramatic surge in the latter part of 2019, right before the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Although nothing overly significant took place during these times, Bitcoin did surpass $40,000 for the first time during January 2021, leading to its historic $1 trillion market cap not too long thereafter. Additionally, January 2022 hasn’t been without its historic happenings either: On January 2, the Bitcoin hash rate exceeded 203.5 exahashes per second for the first time, rising over 200x in the preceding six years.
Bitcoin celebrates many historic milestones during the month of January, one may even call it Bitcoin’s true birth month if one considers the network went live in January 2009 when Satoshi mined the genesis block. All things considered in the end, January should be a month of celebration for everyone in the community, looking back at years of milestones, growth and the building of a global, lasting community.