Ever since its creation in 2008, virtual currency Bitcoin has been the subject of endless rumor, review, and speculation. But despite a steady stream of naysayers and problems with theft, the Little Crypto-Currency That Could continues to chug along. Like many phenomena that capture the public’s attention, Bitcoin is surrounded by characters straight out of tall tales—lucky stiffs, the seemingly cursed, and sketchy ne’er-do-wells scheming to take other people’s hard-earned money.
Full of shadowy mystery and bright promise, Bitcoin continues to attract press, plaudits, and pessimism even as the modern marketplace struggles with the potential impact of a currency whose existence, let alone functionality, is hard to pin down.
A large part of the Bitcoin mythos can be traced to its mysterious origins. The person who created the world’s leading virtual currency is, perhaps appropriately, a cipher. While Satoshi Nakamoto has long been acknowledged as the creator of Bitcoin, next to nothing is known about the identity of the person (or persons) operating under this name, beyond the likelihood of his vast wealth. This hasn’t stopped Internet sleuths from putting some pretty advanced technology to work trying to shed some light on Nakamoto’s identity, but for now, the mists of time and technology continue to shield Bitcoin’s enigmatic creator.
Another aspect that sparks controversy and conjecture is the set of physical and financial limitations attached to a currency that’s anything but concrete. Thanks to a limitation built-into the core algorithm, only 21 million Bitcoins can ever be mined. That might seem like a relatively small number compared to other currencies, but since each block can be divided to eight or ten decimal points, fractional values can—and do—add up quickly.
The limitations may soon be tested more rigorously, as the currency will have its own ATMs popping up across the United States throughout 2014. Consumers who may not be familiar with it may soon be able to buy, sell, send, and spend Bitcoins at the local grocery or gas station, helping spread Bitcoin’s availability and making it seem a little less arcane to John and Jane Q. Public.
While greater familiarity will no doubt help educate users about Bitcoin, the world’s leading virtual crypto-currency will likely continue to generate controversy and conjecture long after the last Bitcoin is mined in or around the year 2140.
PS. Checkout our post on referral programs that payout in bitcoin!
Transcript: 50 Insane Facts about Bitcoins
There’s no denying that the world’s journalists love Bitcoin at the moment. The rises and falls of the virtual currency are being well documented. But if you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed by it all, here’s 50 facts that’ll fill you in on everything Bitcoin-related.
Bitcoin through the years… How the currency began, and what’s happened to it since.
- Satoshi Nakamoto – The pseudonym of the creator(s) of Bitcoin.
- 2008 – The year Bitcoin was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto.
- January 12, 2009 – The first Bitcoin transaction. Satoshi Hal Finney..
- 1 million – The number of Bitcoins thought to have been mined by Satoshi Nakamoto in the currency’s early days.
- Mystery Man? – Numerous attempts have been made to find out the true identity of Bitcoin’s creator(s).
- Five years – The time taken for a single Bitcoin to go from $0 to $1,000 (£613).
- 3,600 – The approximate number of new Bitcoins ‘mined’ each day.
- Litecoins – A competitor to Bitcoin, which uses different ‘tech’ for mining.
- More than 20,000 – The number of computers working at mining new Bitcoins.
- 21 million – The maximum number of Bitcoins that can ever exist.
- 2041 – The year the last remaining Bitcoins will be supposedly mined.
- 64% – The amount of Bitcoins sitting in accounts that haven’t been touched since the currency began.
- 31,000 – The number of lines of computer code behind Bitcoin.
- Coins – Physical Bitcoins began to be marketed in 2011 by a company in the United States.
- Shut down – The minting company behind physical Bitcoins shut up shop after the US Treasury got wind of its actions.
- Alderney – The first jurisdiction to announce plans to mint physical Bitcoins.
- History – Unlike regular money, each Bitcoin has a detailed history, which makes it hard to fake or replicate.
Winners and losers: Some people have gained plenty; some have lost a small fortune.
- Theft: A journalist from Bloomberg was given a Bitcoin on live TV in December 2013. It was promptly stolen by a viewer.
- £4.6m ($7.5m) – The value of Bitcoins stored on James Howells’ hard drive when he accidentally threw it away, sending it to a Welsh landfill in 2013.
- £17 ($28) – The original value of Norwegian Kristoffer Koch’s Bitcoin investment, which by the time he remembered he’d bought it, was worth more than £500,000.
- Jet Li – The actor whose charity received a donation in Bitcoin, bringing the currency to the attention of China.
- WikiLeaks – The whistleblowing website turned to Bitcoins for donations after the leading money transfer companies refused to deal with it.
Bitcoin’s place in the world: The currency has had its ups and downs, and isn’t everyone’s favorite thing.
- Vancouver – This Canadian city boasted the world’s first Bitcoin cash machine.
- Exchange rates – Some leading currency exchange websites list Bitcoin alongside other currencies.
- Thailand – This country became the first to outlaw Bitcoin. It did so in July 2013.
- Argentina – This country saw a surge in Bitcoin when its own currency saw massive inflation.
- 80% – The percentage of its value Bitcoin has been known to lose in just a few days.
- Gold – A single Bitcoin briefly became more valuable than an ounce of gold in November 2013.
- $1,250 (£764) – Bitcoin’s all time high value, which it hit in November 2013.
- $7 (£4.30) – Bitcoin’s lowest value in recent years. It sank to this level in August 2011.
- 4 cents (2p): The value of a Bitcoin in early 2010, a year after its launch.
The Silk Road: This secretive website was used to trade all manner of illegal items before being shut down – it primarily used Bitcoins for transactions.
- Dread Pirate Roberts – The pseudonym of the operator of the Silk Road website, who reportedly took seven percent of all of its Bitcoin sales.
- Ross Ulbricht – The man arrested on suspicion of running the Silk Road, and amassing a fortune in Bitcoin through its illegal activities.
- 5% – The percentage of the world’s Bitcoin owned by the FBI, following the closure and seizure of the Silk Road online marketplace.
- 80% – The amount of Dread Pirate Roberts’ Bitcoins not yet seized by American authorities.
- 5% – 5% – The percentage of Bitcoin’s economy believed to have been made up by the Silk Road before it was closed down.
Spending power: An idea of what you can and can’t do with your Bitcoins.
- Lamborghini – The first car company to accept Bitcoins in exchange for cars.
- Kreuzberg – A part of Berlin that has established itself as a Bitcoin-friendly shopping area.
- 2012 – The year Manchester’s first Bitcoin-friendly retailer – an average corner shop – began using the currency.
- Space – The furthest place you can travel using Bitcoins thanks to Virgin Galactic.
- Mel B – The former Spice Girl became the first musical artist accepting Bitcoin as payment for her music.
- Limousines – Can be hired in certain areas of the US using Bitcoins.
- Pizzas – Can be bought in the Netherlands using Bitcoins.
- China – Banned banks from trading in Bitcoin in December 2013.
- 200,000 – The lowest amount of Bitcoins that are used in transactions each day.
- 10,000 – The number of Bitcoins one man swapped for a pizza in 2010. Those 10,000 Bitcoins would be worth more than $7m (£4.28m) in December 2013.
- Black Friday: More than 200 businesses held a Bitcoin ‘Black Friday’ sale event in the 2013.
- House sale: A man in New York put his house up for sale in December 2013 for $799,000 (£488,000)… or the equivalent in Bitcoins.
- OKCupid: This dating site allows you to meet your potential loved one – it also accepts Bitcoins.
- Sandwiches: Can be bought with Bitcoins at a single branch of Subway in the United States.
So if you’re thinking of speculating on the Bitcoin buzz, re-read these fifty facts and see whether the pros outweigh the cons.
- The Billion-Dollar Bitcoin Roller Coaster – america.aljazeera.com
- Bitcoins – Widely Known and Widely Misunderstood – articles.latimes.com
- James Howells Searches for Hard Drive – bbc.co.uk
- Bitcoin Virtual Currency Breaks $1,000 Mark – bbc.co.uk
- Bitcoin Sinks after China Restricts Yuan Exchanges – bbc.co.uk
- Bitcoin – Experts Clash over the Crypto-Currency – bbc.co.uk
- China Bans Banks from Handling Bitcoin Trade – bbc.co.uk
- World’s First Bitcoin ATM Opens – bbc.co.uk
- Alderney Bitcoin Currency – bbc.co.uk
- Five Held over Bitcoin Scams – bbc.co.uk
- Bitcoin Now Tops $1,200 – blogs.wsj.com
- Buy My House in Bitcoin – blogs.wsj.com
- Bitcoin Price Zooms through $1,000 – cbsnews.com
- Bitcoin Banned in Thailand – cnbc.com
- Bitcoin Hits the Road – cnbc.com
- Now You Can Buy Cars with Bitcoin – dailymail.co.uk
- The Bitcoin Pizza Purchase – forbes.com
- The Other Side of the Bitcoin – independent.co.uk
- The Banking Industry Starts Closing in on Bitcoins – latimes.com
- Corner Shop Embraces Bitcoin – mancunianmatters.co.uk
- Mel B to Accept Bitcoins – melaniebrown.com
- Virgin Galactic to Accept Bitcoin – metro.co.uk
- 8 Things You Can Buy with Bitcoins – money.cnn.com
- Betting on the Bitcoin Buzz – nasdaq.com
- Are Physical Bitcoins Legal – news.cnet.com
- The Crypto-Currency – newyorker.com
- Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Denied Bail – telegraph.co.uk
- Bitcoin Price Plummets – theguardian.com
- Majority of Silk Road’s Bitcoins May Remain Unseized – theguardian.com
- Bitcoin – The Berlin Streets Where You Can Shop with Virtual Money – theguardian.com
- Bitcoin Hits New High – theguardian.com
- The Race to Unmask Bitcoin’s Creator(S) – Thewire.com
- Five Surprising Facts about Bitcoin – washingtonpost.com
- XE Live Exchange Rates – xe.com
- History – en.bitcoin.it