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Remembering Hal Finney

The cypherpunk was instrumental in the early days of Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s tenth birthday was just over a week ago, marking the day when the code was first released. However, a few days ago was another momentous occasion. It was the tenth birthday of this tweet by Hal Finney, which simply states “running bitcoin”. Why is this important?

This was the first time Bitcoin had ever been mentioned on Twitter, but also more importantly, it was the first time anyone other than Satoshi Nakamato had the Bitcoin software up and running.

Finney had long been known in cypherpunk circles. He was one of the first employees of PGP Corporation (Pretty Good Privacy) along with Phil Zimmerman. He was also extremely active on the Cypherpunk mailing list providing advice and sharing ideas.

Without Finney, it is hard to know how much longer Bitcoin would have taken to reach where it has today. Perhaps it never would have achieved anything and would have died as soon as it was released. Thanks to his enthusiasm and commitment however, Bitcoin is here.

When Bitcoin first came out, unlike most other sceptical cypherpunks, Finney jumped at the chance to work with Nakamato. Unfortunately, Finney soon found out he was suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This meant that his body soon became paralysed and he was only able to talk thanks to a voice box that he could use with his eyes. This means that although Finney experienced meteoric rises in the prices of Bitcoin in the early days, he never saw the truly crazy prices that Bitcoin eventually reached.

Luckily though, as a believer in Bitcoin, Finney kept the Bitcoins he mined in the early days in a safe spot for his children to one day cash out. A smart move. If you would like to read Finney’s story of Bitcoin in his own words, check out the forum post he made before he passed away here.

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