Bitcoin, the virtual currency launched into the world in 2008, has spent its first decade generating a virtually endless stream of speculation and rumours. While the currency is not without its problems – there have been both sneering dismissals from financial experts and troubling incidents of theft – Bitcoin continues to grow and thrive. It’s been a wild ride, and along the way, the crypto-currency has collected more than its fair share of wild stories, iconoclastic characters, and improbable schemes.
Bitcoin is enjoying a particularly large surge in journalistic attention right now, and with a battalion of reporters, researchers, and storytellers looking at it, the triumphs and tragedies the virtual currency has racked up are getting plenty of exposure. If you’re just starting to get familiar with the currency, the whole mess of information can be overwhelming. Why not start out by checking in on these 50 wild (but true!) facts.
Bitcoin History 101: How it all started and how it’s progressed
- Satoshi Nakamoto: The preferred alias of Bitcoin’s creator – or creators.
- Mystery Man: Despite considerable interest, no one has ever uncovered the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto.
- 2008: Bitcoin conceived and designed by Satoshi Nakamoto.
- January 12, 2009: The first recorded Bitcoin transaction.
- 1,000,000: Allegedly, the personal fund of Bitcoins mined directly by the currency’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
- 21,000,000: The maximum number of Bitcoins that can be mined due to the intentional limitations of the system.
- 2041: The Current estimate of when the last Bitcoins will be mined.
- Five Years: The length of time it took the value of an individual Bitcoin to climb from $0 to $1,000 (£613).
- 3,600: On average, the number of new Bitcoins being mined every day.
- 20,000+: The estimated number of computers currently miner hosting Bitcoins.
- 64%: The share of the currency which has never been used; 64% of all Bitcoins remain in their original accounts.
- Litecoins: A competing crypto-currency which relies on different technology for security and mining.
- Coins: A US company attempted to sell physical Bitcoins in 2011
- Shutdown: The physical Bitcoin mining company was quickly shut down after the US Treasury Department took a very negative interest in the operation.
Bitcoin Geography 101: Essential places
- Vancouver: Site of Canada’s – and the World’s – first Bitcoin ATM.
- Thailand: Due to a July 2013 ruling, Thailand became the first country to outlaw Bitcoin.
- Argentina: Economy uncertainty and massive inflation of the national currency led to a dramatic surge in Bitcoin use.
- Exchange Rates: Bitcoin is listed alongside national currencies on several major currency exchange sites.
- Gold: The value of individual Bitcoins first rose above the value of an ounce of gold in November 2013.
- 80%: The percentage of value Bitcoin has lost in short-term crashes; the crypto-currency remains extremely volatile.
- 5%: Following the seizure of the lawless Silk Road online marketplace, it’s now estimated that the US FBI owns 5% of the world’s Bitcoins.
- 80%: The amount of the Bitcoin hoard belonging to ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ that has yet to be seized by the US Government.
Bitcoin Economics 101: What Bitcoins do (and don’t) buy
- 2012: The first UK retailer – a humble corner shop in Manchester – begins accepting Bitcoin payments from customers.
- Kreuzberg: A Berlin neighbourhood that has established a communal pro-Bitcoin policy for local commerce.
- Lamborghini: The first car company to accept payment in Bitcoins.
- Mel B: The first recording artist to accept Bitcoin in exchange for her music.
- China: The government banned its banks from Bitcoin trading in December 2013.
- Space: The highest Bitcoin can take you; Virgin Galactic accepts the crypto-currency.
- Limousines: Limo hire for Bitcoins is available in some parts of the US.
- Pizzas: You can buy them in the Netherlands (and elsewhere) with Bitcoins.
- Black Friday: Over 200 different businesses launched a Bitcoin sale event with this name in 2013.
- 200,000: The lowest number of Bitcoins that trade hands on any given day.
- 10,000: The number of Bitcoins a man paid for a pizza in 2010. Were the transaction held in December 2013, that pizza would have cost more than $7m (£4.28m).
If you’re considering your own foray into the world of Bitcoin, you’re certainly not alone. Studying up is an excellent first step; hopefully, these quick facts have expanded your own fund of knowledge on the subject.