Seven Fascinating Facts About Cryptocurrency
Though the concept of b-money has been around since 1998, seven short years ago bitcoin was still a twinkle in Satoshi Nakamoto’s eye; and yet, since the first ever Bitcoin transaction in 2010, awareness of cryptocurrencies and their value has grown exponentially.
I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard of cryptocurrency, I thought it was a banking system that vampires used in crypts. But nowadays, TV Shows like Mr Robot and Startup regularly feature their own cryptocurrencies, you can use Bitcoin to buy pizza in The Netherlands, withdraw Bitcoins from an ATM in Vancouver (or a hole in the wall if you’re a vampire) and even buy former Spice Girl and America’s Got Talent judge, Mel B’s “music” with Bitcoin.
So today, I'm going to be taking a look at some of the most interesting cryptocurrency factoids - from the stupidest to the spookiest, but first, we’re gonna start with my second favorite topic - pizza!
The $20 Million Pizza
We’ve all been there, after a hard day’s work staring at a screen - you need to eat but your fingers can barely type another line of code let alone cook a delicious, healthy meal like this:
And then, like a vision of an angel sent from the heavens, the idea hits you…
If… I… could… just… muster… enough… strength… to… dial…
That’s possibly what happened to Laszlo Hanyecz, the first person to purchase any product with Bitcoin on 22nd May 2010. In exchange for 10,000 BTC, he received two pizzas.
Tasty as two Sloppy Guiseppes are, those Bitcoins would be worth a staggering $21 million today! Always one to know a winner when they see one, for Internet fans, the date has gone down in history, with May 22nd celebrated as Bitcoin Pizza Day.
The Great Bitcoin Swindle
From pizzas to ponzis now… In 2011 and 2012, a BitcoinTalks forum user promised investors a financial return of 7% per week via a Bitcoin investment fund.
The investment fund turned out to be the first Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme and, despite the massive clue in his username, many people handed over their imaginary gold doubloons to Trendon Shavers aka “Pirateat40”
After being found counting his coins like Scrooge McDuck, the young Texan was arrested and pled guilty in the first ever criminal fraud case in the U.S involving cryptocurrency for collecting 700,467 BTC - $807,380 at the time. If he held on to his Bitcoins, they’d now be worth $2,745,816,630 - enough to build a fleet of pirate ships and a Moon Base.
The Silk Road
Speaking of Cybercriminal pirates… named after Marco Polo’s trade route between Europe and China, the Silk Road was an infamous, black market website where you could purchase anything and everything illegal; from drugs to guns to people. You could even hire a hitman. The site’s mastermind was another pirate - Dread Pirate Roberts aka Ross Ulbricht.
Bitcoins accounted for 5% of all traffic which passed through the dark website and Ulbricht took 7% of every Bitcoin sale before he was arrested and the site permanently closed down.
As Ulbricht rots in a jail cell, serving a life sentence, American authorities have seized just 20% of Ulbricht’s Bitcoin assets, meaning the other 80% still out there, somewhere!
The identity of Bitcoin’s billionaire inventor remains a mystery...
One mystery disguise that hasn’t been unveiled like the end of a Scooby-Doo episode is the identity of Bitcoin founder, inventor of the first blockchain database and billionaire, Satoshi Nakamoto.
That said, while few, if any, people know Nakamoto’s real name, literary analysis of his fluent English blogs and other evidence suggest he is Craig Steven Wright, a computer scientist and businessman, though some in the bitcoin community dispute this.
The first ever Bitcoin test-transaction took place between Craig Steven Wright and Hal Finney, who some believe was the real Nakatomo, but we may never know because...
If Scooby-Doo secret identities aren’t spooky enough for you, how about the fact that cryptographer and Bitcoin pioneer Harold Thomas Finney, or Hal to his friends, passed away shortly after that first Bitcoin transaction.
While the Internet would love to think of his death as a shadowy conspiracy theory, Californian cypherpunk philanthropist Mr Finney died naturally, aged 58 from ALS.
The spooky part is that in accordance with his wishes, his body was cryogenically frozen in a laboratory in Arizona. I always wonder when (not if) whether people revived from cryogenic sleep will continue their conversation mid-sentence like “As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by that tall chap in the cloak with the scythe…”
Don’t cry over spilt milk...
After dismantling his hard drive because he spilled a drink on it in 2013, I.T journalist James Howells threw an old hard drive in the trash.
The good news is, four months later James remembered the drive contained 7,500 Bitcoins. The bad news was that it was now buried under five feet of household waste on a landfill site in South Wales in the United Kingdom. He scoured the football-field-sized dump but never found his hard drive.
British news reports from the time state that Howell’s brainfart lost him anywhere between $4m and £625m but a quick Google search reveals those 7,500 bitcoins are now worth $3 billion. D’oh!
One easy way to ensure you never make the same mistake is to learn about cryptocurrency for our futuristic, brave new world. “But where?” I hear you cry.
In the seven short years since Bitcoin’s inception, cryptocurrencies have become a force to be reckoned with. Okay, you can’t exactly pay for your Organic, Fair-trade, Soy Milk, Vanilla Frappuccino in Starbucks or mechanically recovered chicken nuggets in Walmart yet, but maybe one day soon, you’ll have to!
But before you trudge the endless aisles of Frozen French Fry Alley, the best way to learn about Cryptocurrency is by taking an online degree in Digital Currency.
Yep, that’s right, the University of Nicosia, in Cyprus has seen the future and is the first university in the world to offer a cryptocurrency course. It does so by utilizing Satoshi Nakamoto’s blockchain technology and you can even pay for the course in BTC.
So when you come to enroll, remember you heard it here first…. and no, I'm not on commission, though perhaps I should be!