I don't believe we shall ever have a good money again before we take the thing out of the hands of government; that is, we can't take it violently out of the hands of government, all we can do is by some sly roundabout way introduce something that they can't stop. — F.A. Hayek, 1984.
By the 1980s, some people decided to defend privacy in communications through the development and use of encrypted systems, they were the so-called cypherpunks.
Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. — A Cypherpunk's Manifesto by Eric Hughes (1993).
Their ideas merged with those of the extropians, a group of libertarian futurists very interested in the intersection of Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Friedrich Hayek and high technology.
The computer can be used as a tool to liberate and protect people, rather than to control them. (...) It's going to have to be a grass-roots activity, one in which individuals first learn of how much power they can have, and then demand it. — Hal Finney (1992).
That fusion led to dream about digital systems that would enable to non-violently enforce contracts and about the de-politization of money.
The first attempts to create private monetary systems failed due to lack of decentralization: Hashcash by Adam Back (1997), B-Money by Wei Dai (1998), Reusable Proof of Work by Hal Finney (2004) and Bit Gold by Nick Szabo (2005).
The idea of an unofficial and completely decentralized currency was very fringe both economically and scientifically, but a mysterious cypherpunk behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto figured it out.
He published the Bitcoin White Paper titled Bitcoin: a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System at bitcoin.org on October 31, 2008. The paper described a private form of money that minimized users' vulnerability to the potential harmful behaviour of third parties.
Satoshi sent the proposal to one of the main mailing lists focused on cryptography.
“I had to write all the code before I could convince myself that I could solve every problem, then I wrote the paper” wrote Satoshi 9 days later. The code was ready.
The software was announced and released as an open source project.
On January 3, 2009 the Bitcoin Network started to operate.
The headline for that same day's edition of The [London] Times was "Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks"; which is included in the block 0 of Bitcoin's chain.
Since then, and for the first time in history, financial self-sovereignty is possible thanks to the appearance of a digital and easily verifiable scarcity that is integrated in a decentralized network that secures its ability to be stored and transferred globally.
It is the first nonviolently securable property in history, since its ownership is enforced simply through the possession of a small piece of data.
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Nobody showed much interest except for Hal Finney, who was the first person to join the network.
He was also the first person to receive a transaction, Satoshi sent him 10₿.
The computer can be used as a tool to liberate and protect people, rather than to control them. — Hal Finney.
Interest on the project grew very slowly.
Although "The nature of Bitcoin is such that once version 0.1 was released, the core design was set in stone for the rest of its lifetime" as Satoshi posted, the contributions of new developers made possible for the software to improve in security.
On May 22, 2010, the first commercial exchange of bitcoin occurred:
a computer programmer from Florida called Laszlo Hanyecz posted a thread on Bitcointalk forum with the title "Pizza for bitcoins?" offering 10,000₿ for 2 pizzas. Another forum user took the offer, and just after receiving the bitcoins he ordered 2 pizzas by phone with charge to his own credit card and delivery to Laszlo's home.
On April 23, 2011 shortly after a frequent code contributor told Satoshi about his intention to speak with the CIA, Satoshi stated in an email "I've moved on to other things"and he disappeared.
Appreciation for Bitcoin grew exponentially.
Every time somebody gets censored, Boom! they become a Bitcoin fan. It’s almost a binary thing:
if you haven’t been censored, or have never been strongly sympathetic with somebody who has been censored by the financial system, then you don’t understand the biggest early use cases of Bitcoin. If you have, nobody needs to “convert” you. — Nick Szabo.
By 2020 the Bitcoin Network had become the most reliable and secure financial network in the world, supported by ten of thousands of nodes distributed globally.