On January 8 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto posted an e-mail to the Cypherpunks mailing list titled ‘Bitcoin v0.1 released’. Essentially, this was when Bitcoin (BTC) was first released publicly to everyone on the Cypherpunks mailing list. Although the Bitcoin (BTC) Genesis Block did occur on January 3, Satoshi apparently waited 5 days before publicly announcing v0.1, likely to work out some of the bugs and make sure that it was stable. This article deep dives this Bitcoin (BTC) launch email and the ensuing conversation.
First off, barely anyone was using Bitcoin (BTC) when it first launched, so Satoshi requested that people create a node which accepts incoming transactions so that the network would be able to operate.
Right after that request for help, Satoshi says that the software is so experimental that Bitcoin (BTC) might have to be shut down and restarted at some point, although fortunately that never happened.
One of the most remarkable things is just how easy it was to mine Bitcoin (BTC) when it was first released. Satoshi says that a regular PC could mine a block, which is 50 Bitcoins (BTC), in just a few hours. Satoshi warns that people should mine while it is easy, because eventually it will become much harder as competition increases, and that is quite an understatement of what actually happened. Now it probably requires billions of dollars of mining equipment to mine 50 Bitcoins (BTC) in a few hours.
Notably, Satoshi then mentions that Bitcoin (BTC) can be sent to a user’s IP address, via entering someone else’s IP address and then a public key is generated. Satoshi seems to prefer this method over using the actual Bitcoin (BTC) address, since he says privacy is lost if the Bitcoin (BTC) address is used multiple times.
Finally, Satoshi discusses how block halvings will occur every 4 years, and when block rewards run out the system will be able to sustain itself from transaction fees, although Satoshi thinks there will always be nodes willing to process transaction fees for free.
On January 11 Hal Finney became the first person to respond to Satoshi’s email, and he described a thought experiment where Bitcoin (BTC) becomes the dominant currency in the world, and roughly estimates that each Bitcoin (BTC) would be worth $10 million if that happens. Based on this, Finney says that generating Bitcoin (BTC) for a few cents of computing power seems to be a really good bet, and that ended up being quite prophetic.
Five days later on January 16 Satoshi replied to Finney’s email, and starts off by writing that he would be surprised if people weren’t using some form of electronic currency 10 years in the future, especially now that there is a decentralized way to do it. Satoshi then proposes some use cases for electronic currency, including rewards points, donations, currency for games, adult websites, and pay to send email. Satoshi then ends the email by saying that Bitcoin (BTC) is the virtual equivalent of dropping coins in a vending machine.
On January 17 Jonathan Thornburg became the 2nd person to respond to Satoshi’s email, and he notes that the government is probably going to be anti-Bitcoin (BTC), since Bitcoin (BTC) facilitates untraceable international financial transactions, and that botnets could be used to easily launder Bitcoin (BTC).
Thornburg then predicts that Bitcoin (BTC) could incentivize the spread of botnets and malware, which ended up being 100% accurate, since now there are global botnets which mine crypto, and plenty of ransomware which uses crypto.
Then Thornburg asks Satoshi if Bitcoin (BTC) can be monitored by the government to ensure that it is not being used by malicious botnets, implying that the government should have that capability.
After that, Finney, Satoshi, and a couple of other people continue the discussion on botnets and Bitcoin (BTC), and what could happen.
Ultimately, only a handful of people responded to Satoshi’s first launch email on the Cypherpunk mailing list. This is important to put in perspective, since if anyone else spent so much time developing a completely unique software like Bitcoin (BTC) and then only 5 people responded when it launched, it would seem like a failure.
However, Bitcoin (BTC) is viral in nature since it is so unique and useful, and even a handful of people taking an interest in Bitcoin (BTC) in the beginning was enough to start the chain reaction which led to the creation of the entire crypto space.