22 surprising, fascinating and weird facts about Bitcoin
1. Who created Bitcoin?
Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, has never been identified.
It is not known if Satoshi is an individual or group, but either way no-one knows for sure who he/she/they are.
2. Bitcoin is not the first cryptocurrency
We all think as Bitcoin as the daddy of cryptocurrency - the first of its kind in a brave new world, but this is wrong.
The first digital currency was actually DigiCash which was created by David Chaum in 1989.
Chaum’s idea was to create a system where transactions could be made in a way that was untraceable by Governments using cryptographic protocols.
Other digital currencies that came before Bitcoin are Wei Dai’s B-Money, Adam Back’s Hashcash and Nick Szabo’s theoretical Bit Gold.
3. Bitcoin’s unbreakable keys
There’s a theory that Bitcoin private keys are so secure that they can’t be cracked by a brute-force attack until the computers involved are built from something other than matter and occupy something other than space.
If advances in quantum computing do make it feasible to crack an address, Bitcoin could potentially hard fork to a quantum resistant cryptography.
4. Satoshi’s Nobel Prize nomination
The enigmatic creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2016. He/she/they didn’t win.
5. A Satoshi is not the smallest unit of Bitcoin
Many people wrongly assume that the smallest divisible of a Bitcoin is 1 Satoshi, ie 100 millionth of a Bitcoin, but this is wrong.
The Bitcoin code has already been altered to create even smaller denominations and it’s thought this function may be further needed if the value of Bitcoin continues to rise exponentially.
No new Bitcoins are being created so it’s not an inflationary practice, just the existing ones are being slicer into smaller portions.
On the Lightning Network layer (the optional transaction layer on top of the blockchain), what’s known as milli-satoshis are already in use. One millisatoshi (known as an ‘msat’) is worth one thousandth of a Satoshi.
6. Bitcoin is a currency and a commodity
Bitcoin is both a currency and a commodity. It is a digital currency that can be used to buy products and services, yet certain Government agencies around the world classify it as a commodity.
7. Satellites protect the Bitcoin network
Bitcoin’s blockchain is beamed to the entire world via a network of satellites, known as the Blockstream Satellite Project.
This neutralizes the threat of a global internet outage or attack on the transmission of Bitcoin data over the internet from taking down the network.
8. The Million Clubs
Those who own 1 Bitcoin are said to be in the ‘21 Million Club’ as there will only ever be just shy of this number of Bitcoins in existence.
Anyone who owns 21 Bitcoins are said to be part of the ‘One in A Million Club’.
Interestingly, only 10% of people who hold Bitcoin have more than 0.1 Bitcoins in their wallet.
Only around 1600 wallets hold more than 1,000 Bitcoins, and around 100 wallets have more than 10,000 Bitcoins in them.
9. Most Bitcoins aren’t used for crime
Only about 10% of Bitcoin transactions are connected to crime, despite the public’s perception that this is what the digital currency is mainly used for.
10. Bitcoiners love meat
Being an avid carnivore has become a fad in the hardcore Bitcoin community. Certain prominent Bitcoiners hold ‘meatup’ dinners each year which focuses on different meats as the centrepiece of the meal.
11. Bitcoin ‘Gold’ Rush
People are making fortunes from selling Bitcoin mining equipment in a similar way to how people profited from selling shovels and other equipment during the California Gold Rush of the 1880s.
12. Bitcoin mining will end around 2140
The last Bitcoins will be mined sometime around the year 2140. At this point, the total number in existence (including those lost forever) will be 20,999,987.5769 – just shy of the 21 million that’s often cited due to mining errors.
13. Bitcoin Pizza Day
Bitcoin Pizza Day relates to an event on May 22, 2010, when Laszlo Hanyecz bought two pizza for 10,000 in Bitcoins (around £80 million / $102 million at today’s prices).
It’s widely believed to be, retrospectively, the most expensive food order ever placed.
14. The first faucet gave out 5 BTC at a time
The first Bitcoin faucet gave away 5BTC (approximately £40,000/$50,000 at the time of writing) per claim. Today, 30 Satoshis (0.00000030 BTC) is more normal.
The faucet was created by Gavin Andresen in June 2010 when acquiring Bitcoins was difficult for most people.
All visitors had to do to receive the coins was complete a captcha. At the time, a user even complained that the faucet only gave out 5 coins a day!
In total the faucet distributed 19,715 Bitcoins before it ran dry in early 2011.
15. The Value Overflow Incident
On August 15, 2010, a bug in the Bitcoin blockchain created around 184 billion new Bitcoins.
Known as the ‘Value Overflow Incident’, the bug centered on block 74,638 which created 184,467,440,737.09551616 bitcoins for three different addresses.
The problem was resolved about 5 hours later with the release of a new version of Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto and another developer.
16. The FBI’s Bitcoin holding
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) holds 1.5% of all the world’s circulating Bitcoins.
They were seized when the law enforcement agency shut down The Silk Road, which at the time was the largest black market website in the world.
17. Bitcoin has been sent into to space
In 2016 cloud mining provider Genesis Mining tied a paper Bitcoin wallet to a weather balloon which then rose to an altitude of 34 kilometres during which Bitcoin transactions were carried out.
18. Bitcoin transactions are traceable
The Bitcoin Blockchain is a permanent ledger of all transactions ever made and is available to the public and anyone can inspect a wallet address.
If any of your real-world details are associated with that address, or you’ve made transaction using it via and exchange where you’ve entered your details, then your crypto activity can be traced back to you.
Some people use what are known as ‘Bitcoin Mixers’ to preserve their anonymity.
The term ‘HODL’, referring to someone hanging onto their Bitcoins rather than spending them, is said to originate from a drunken post on a Bitcoin forum.
The poster wrote ‘I AM HODLING’ when asked in December 2013 what they were planning to do with their coins, presumably meaning to write ‘holding’ instead.
20. The official Bitcoin mascot
The honey badger is the official mascot of Bitcoin, due to its reputation as being one of the toughest creatures in the animal kingdom.
21. The first 50 Bitcoins are lost forever
The maiden block, ie block 0, was the first ever Bitcoin block mined and contained 50 coins. It was never added to the blockchain so the coins can never be spent.
Weirdly, there's been a steady stream of inward 'donations' to the wallet containing the coins, with the total standing at 66.5 BTC at the time of writing. These additional coins are lost forever as well.
22. The Genesis block
The 'Genesis block' which launched the Bitcoin blockchain took six days to mine. It is thought this was a deliberate move to mimic the story of creation from the Bible.