The Bitcoin White Paper Turns 13 Today

The 31st of October marks the "birthday" of the Bitcoin white paper and its nine pages that made history. In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto presented the white paper to the Cryptography Mailing List; just over two months later, the first Bitcoin block would be mined.

Notably, the domain was registered over a month before, on August 18th. In fact, Satoshi had already written the code for Bitcoin before sharing the white paper. When Hal Finney, Bitcoin's famous first supporter, suggested in the mailing list that Satoshi share a "more formal, text description of the system" as a "helpful next step," the Bitcoin creator revealed that he had already done the work:

I appreciate your questions. I actually did this kind of backwards. I had to write all the code before I could convince myself that I could solve every problem, then I wrote the paper. I think I will be able to release the code sooner than I could write a detailed spec.

Finney had previously called Bitcoin "a very promising idea," stating that he liked "the idea of basing security on the assumption that the CPU power of honest participants outweighs that of the attacker."

The early days following the release of the Bitcoin white paper were in fact uneventful, with some skepticism directed towards the document. The first reaction to Satoshi's concept was rather negative even, coming from pseudonymous cryptographer James A. Donald:

We very, very much need such a system, but the way I understand your proposal, it does not seem to scale to the required size.

Other criticism addressed the idea of Proof-of-Work (POW) or the question of whether there would even be a market for something like Bitcoin.

13 years later, Bitcoin has long found its market. Millions of people worldwide now use Bitcoin: to diversify their portfolio, to protect their savings, to send remittances, or to escape financial censorship or surveillance. Bitcoin has become a permanent topic on Wall Street, and the first nation state has adopted it as legal tender.

Happy White Paper Day!

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Thomas is a journalist at the BTC Times. He enjoys writing about Bitcoin, learning about Bitcoin, and HODLing bitcoin.