The History of Bitcoin: A Timeline5 min read
1982: David Lee Chaum introduces the idea of digital cash and the blockchain protocol with his dissertation “Computer Systems Established, Maintained, and Trusted by Mutually Suspicious Groups.” Bloomberg would later refer to Chaum as the Godfather of Crypto.
1997: Adam Back, who reportedly discussed this idea as early as 1992, proposes a proof-of-work algorithm called HashCash that would later serve as the basis for Bitcoin mining.
November 1998: Wei Dai proposes the creation of B-money, an “anonymous, distributed electronic cash system” with a proof-of-work protocol, on the Cypherpunks mailing list. Back supposedly referred Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto to Wei’s work.
September 1999: An anonymous post on the same mailing list introduces an idea called “ecash” that bears similarities to Bitcoin, leading some to theorize that the author might have been a young Satoshi.
October 31, 2008: Satoshi Nakamoto, an anonymous person or group, posts the “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” paper to the Cypherpunks mailing list. This paper arguably served as a Declaration of Independence for decentralized finance.
January 3, 2009: Satoshi sends bitcoin to software developer Hal Finney. This resulted in the mining of the “Genesis Block” (or Block 0), marking the birth of Bitcoin and the start of the Bitcoin blockchain. Another transaction took place six days later, creating Block 1, with some suggesting the wait time was a nod to the six days of creation in The Book of Genesis.
May 22, 2010: Florida-based programmer Laszlo Hanyecz convinces a local Papa John’s to sell him two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin, marking the first-known commercial transaction using the digital currency.
February 9, 2011: Bitcoin reaches parity with the U.S. dollar: 1 BTC = $1.
July 2012: High school students in Palo Alto form the Paly Entrepreneurs Club in pursuit of creating a Bitcoin trading network, leading to national news coverage in the New York Times.
November 28, 2012: After a total of 10,500,00 bitcoin had been mined, the rate of new production was cut in half. These halving events take place every four years until the final new bitcoin is mined in 2140.
April 2013: The collective value of all bitcoin exceeds the billion-dollar mark, leading to a media frenzy and interest from Silicon Valley investment firms.
July 2013: The Winklevoss Twins (of Facebook fame/infamy) file a proposal with securities regulators for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund.
September 2013: A relatively new start-up, SecondMarket, creates the Bitcoin Investment Trust (later adding Grayscale to the name) that only holds bitcoin.
October 2013: The first-known public Bitcoin ATM opens inside the Waves coffee shop in Vancouver, Canada.
November 18, 2013: During a U.S. Senate hearing, federal officials acknowledge that digital currency networks offer benefits for the financial sector, showing a growing awareness by the government that Bitcoin is more than a fad. That month, the value of Bitcoin rose sharply to a peak of $1,100, having started the year at $13.
December 18, 2013: HODL, an acronym for “Hold On for Dear Life,” is born after a semi-coherent Bitcointalk forum user types “I am hodling” in reference to “holding” Bitcoin. The typo sparked the creation of a phrase that would define a movement.
January 9, 2014: Overstock becomes the first major retailer to accept bitcoin, reportedly selling $124,000 in goods paid for with bitcoin in the first 21 hours. Microsoft, Dell, Expedia and other major retailers followed suit later that year.
February 2015: Thaddeus Dryja and Joseph Poon publish the first draft of a white paper that introduces the Lightning Network as a way to facilitate fast bitcoin transactions at scale.
February 2015: The number of merchants accepting bitcoin payments surpasses 100,000 worldwide.
June 2015: NASDAQ agrees to start using Bitcoin’s blockchain technology.
October 2, 2015: The Unicode Consortium receives a proposal to add a code point for the Bitcoin symbol. A month later, it was approved.
January 2016: The Bitcoin network exceeds one Exa Hash/s (or about 10.8 ZettaFLOPS/s) for the first time.
April 2017: Japan legalizes the use of bitcoin for payments.
May 2017: The first bitcoin payment is made on a non-test Lightning Network. The micropayment settled in a fraction of a second.
August 2, 2017: Segregated Witness, or SegWit, is activated as a protocol upgrade that helps scale the network and increase privacy.
December 2017: Starting the year at $1,100, the value of Bitcoin reaches nearly $20,000. Like 2013, the second major Bitcoin price surge occurred in the year after a halving event.
2018: OpenNode, formed in 2017, harnesses the speed and scalability of the Lightning Network to launch a Bitcoin-payment platform for everyday use.
2019: The Lightning Network goes live on the Bitcoin Mainnet.
October 2020: PayPal announces that users will be able to buy and sell – but not deposit or withdrawal – bitcoin on the platform.
February 19, 2021: Bitcoin hits $1 trillion in total market value.
June 9 2021: El Salvador adopts Bitcoin as legal tender that can be used for any transaction, becoming the first country to make Bitcoin a national currency. The country has not had a native currency since 2001, when it switched to the U.S. dollar.
November 10, 2021: Bitcoin hits an all-time high of $69,044.
April 28, 2022: Central African Republic becomes the second country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.
June 7, 2022: U.S. Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduce the Responsible Financial Innovation Act that would integrate Bitcoin into the existing legal structure. The proposed legislation is the first major bipartisan bill aimed at regulating digital currencies.
June 27, 2022: SEC Chairman Gary Gensler tells CNBC, “Bitcoin, and that’s the only one I’m going to say… [is] a commodity,” putting it in the same category as more easily traded assets like oil and gold.
July 12, 2022: The number of total Bitcoin addresses ever created hits the 1 billion mark.
September 12, 2022: Bitcoin celebrates its 5,000th day online.
May 30, 2024: The expected date of the next Bitcoin halving will mark the fourth halving event since the currency’s inception.