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The complete history of Bitcoin—the revolutionary currency

Here’s a detailed look at the rise, fall, and resurgence of the unregulated digital currency.


Curt Hopkins


Bitcoin continues to grow at a ridiculous rate. The unregulated digital currency has moved from $0.14 in the year of its birth to over $100 today, due in part to recent convulsions in the banking sector in Cyprus and other factors.

In a matter of months, bitcoins have gone mainstream. Banks have been announced to facilitate the movement of the currency, online businesses have agreed to accept it for payments, ATM plans have emerged, and it’s become a talking point for international media.

Here’s a look at the rise, fall, and resurgence of the revolutionary currency.


November 2008

Pseudonymous programmer, or group of programmers, Satoshi Nakamoto publishes the details of Bitcoin and solves the double-spending issue to keep currency uncopyable. (PDF)

January 2009

Bitcoin system launches, replete with new currency generation system that will result in 21 million bitcoins over the years, to end in 2040.

May 2010

First Bitcoin transaction said to take place when a Florida man, Laszlo Hanyecz, sends 10,000 bitcoins to a volunteer in the U.K., who calls a Papa John’s pizza and has them deliver a pizza to Hanyecz’s house.

August 2010

Vulnerability in the system is discovered (improper verification of bitcoins) and exploited, generating 184 billion bitcoins. It’s later discovered and erased, and the system is transferred to an updated version of Bitcoin.

October 2010

Inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force publishes paper (PDF) warning of the use of digital currency as a financial mechanism by terrorist groups.

June 2011

WikiLeaks begins accepting donations only in bitcoins, after being dropped by banks and other payment services, like PayPal, the previous year.

The first Bitcoin bubble pops, falling from over $30 to about $10. Then, over the next several months, it declines to under $3.

Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange hacked and coins stolen. The Bitcoin Talk forums list 28 hacks/thefts of over 1,000 bitcoins each.

Owner of Bitomat, the third largest Bitcoin exchange, loses Bitcoin wallet and the 17,000 bitcoins it held for clients.

August 2011

MyBitcoin hacked, loses its clients 78,000 bitcoins, 51 percent of its their deposits.

September 2011

Bitcoins accepted for drugs on illicit marketplace Silk Road

February 2012

Major Bitcoin exchange, TradeHill, shuts its doors.

March 2012

TradeHill sues another virtual currency exchange, Dwolla.

Bitcoinica exchange hacked and over 43,000 bitcoins stolen.

April 2012

Reddit announces its consideration of the currency, delighting the site’s so-called Bitcoin strippers.

May 2012

Leaked FBI report uncovers government and law enforcement fears of Bitcoin as a tool to facilitate the sales of drugs and weapons and assist terrorist.

July 2012

Adam Draper launches BoostVC, a Bitcoin startup incubator.

August 2012

Bitcoin debit card announced.

Bitcoin Savings and Trust shuts down, leaving $5.6 million in debt outstanding; SEC investigates it as a Ponzi scheme.

Lawsuit filed against Bitcoinica.

September 2012

Bitfloor exchange hacked of 24,000 bitcoins, closes down temporarily then restarts with promise to pay clients back a loss of about $250,000.

November 2012

Blog service WordPress accepts payment in bitcoins.

December 2012

First Bitcoin bank opens, Bitcoin exchange Bitcoin-Central partners with French bank Credit Mutuel to operate as a bank.

February 2013

You can now buy pizza from various companies, including Pizza Hut and Dominos.

Bitcoin revitalizes online gambling.

Kim Dotcom’s Mega file-locker service accepts the currency.

The Internet Archive allows for Bitcoin donations.

March 2013

Broker service BitInstant social hacked out of $12,000.

Two different versions of the Bitcoin software clash, causing a glitch in Bitcoin price.

U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network announces regulatory position on virtual currencies, emboldens investors.

New spike in Bitcoin value occasions fear of new bubble.

Bitcoin market estimated at $400 million.

Venture capital investment in Bitcoin startups reaches $3 million.

Canadian puts his house on the market for bitcoins.

Another company plans Bitcoin ATM, to debut in Cyprus.

April 2013

Bitcoin breaks $100 exchange rate for the first time as total value for the currency tops $1 billion. It currently trades $141.32, according to Mt.Gox.

Original illustration by Robert Day, remix by Jason Reed

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