Ten years ago, software programmer Laszlo Hanyecz marked a milestone in Bitcoin history when he used the cryptocurrency to buy two pizzas. It was May 22, 2010 and for the first time a bitcoin transaction was executed to purchase a tangible good.
Satoshi Nakamoto had exchanged 10 bitcoins with Hal Finney for the first time on January 9, 2009. However, the cryptocurrency had never been used to buy a product until Laszlo believed that the time was right for bitcoin to be used as a medium of exchange in everyday life.
The programmer was mining thousands of bitcoins back then, when it was still a relatively simple and cost-efficient task to do for an individual. He addressed the Bitcoin community of bitcointalk and offered to pay 10,000 bitcoin for two pizzas in Jacksonville, Florida:
“I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day. I like having left over pizza to nibble on later. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy!”
Jeremy Sturdivant from Santa Cruz in California, also known as Jercos, responded to the request and agreed to buy the two pizzas for Laszlo from one of Jacksonville’s Papa John’s in exchange for the bitcoin offered. At that time, they were worth $30 (1 bitcoin= $0.003).
Jercos was only 18 and he declared more recently that those 10,000 bitcoins made it back into the economy pretty soon, as he had sold them when they were worth around $400.
Both Laszlo and Jercos might regret not being millionaires now but at the time it seemed like a good idea to experiment with a new digital asset and spend it, despite being worth around $95 million at the time of writing in May 2020. They later stated that bitcoin is to be considered as a proper currency and as such is meant to be spent.
The two men certainly opened the gate to a more mainstream cryptocurrency, available and ready to be used as a medium of exchange. Today, there are plenty of retailers and commercial businesses that accept bitcoin, but back then transactions could only be completed between enthusiasts of the digital coin that participated in exclusive cypher activism forums.
Bitcoin has now experienced a further decade of growth and innovation.
Since that historic moment, ten years on, the number of transactions validated in the bitcoin network has grown to over 500 million, as currently recorded. Together with a high hashing power and a wide peer-to-peer network, such an enormous number of transactions indicate bitcoin is the strongest and most secure of the cryptocurrencies in existence.
Today bitcoiners celebrate worldwide Bitcoin Pizza Day mostly by buying the famous meal with bitcoin. The event has even prompted the creation of a page that tracks the value of 10,000 Bitcoin at today's dollar and euro prices, compares that amount to the current price of Gold and Silver, and additionally conveys the deflationary properties of Bitcoin.
Laszlo Hanyecz continues to be a software programmer. However, he hasn’t lost the experimental touch with Bitcoin and only two years ago he made another purchase of pizza, this time using the lightning network. The protocol was still at a very early stage of development and no pizza retailer near Laszlo was yet accepting it as a means of payment. As a result, he had to rely again on another peer, this time from the UK, to perform the transaction. Once more, he had succeeded in buying pizza, this time with the next generation of Bitcoin fast payment protocol.
Bitcoin Pizza Day is only one of the yearly celebrations that mark the life of the major cryptocurrency.
On January 3rd, bitcoiners honor the genesis block mined in 2009 that contained the powerful message "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks". Satoshi had embedded it for life to remember the reason why Bitcoin was even created. The reference was to the 2008 global financial crisis and the first signs of a banking system collapse.
The message was recently revived by a follow up note included in the last block with 12.5 bitcoin, mined by F2Pool exactly at the third Bitcoin Halvening on May 11 of this year: “NYTimes 09/Apr/2020 With $2.3T Injection, Fed's Plan Far Exceeds 2008 Rescue”, It alludes to the current Covid-19 related financial crisis and yet another attempt by the Fed to rescue the economy using trillions of dollars newly printed to the benefit of banks and corporations.
In the last couple of years, bitcoiners have started to celebrate January 3rd with the clear message “Not your keys, not your bitcoin”. Prompted by Bitcoin expert Trace Mayer, the movement encourages the withdrawal and transfer of bitcoins from 3rd party custody to hardware wallets, in order to secure one’s money, prove self-custody, and prevent irresponsible fractional reserve practices.
January 12th marks the celebration of the first bitcoin transaction between two people. On that day of 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto sent 10 bitcoins in block 170 to early bitcoin contributor and author of the famous “Running Bitcoin” tweet, Hal Finney.
October 31st is Bitcoin’s birthday. That day in 2008, a person or group under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto announced in The Cryptography Mailing list at metzdowd.com: "I've been working on a new electronic cash system that's fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party. The paper is available at http://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf."
12 years on after the historic Bitcoin White Paper was officially published, Bitcoin has grown to have an impact on the world that not even Satoshi himself had probably imagined. Let's all raise a slice to many more years of the same.
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