Ten years may not seem much, but since bitcoin matures in the digital equivalent of dog years, it’s enough to account for some quite (in)famous addresses. In this article, we present five bitcoin addresses that are worthy of note.
One of the beauties of bitcoin is that all transactions are publicly and irrevocably etched in the blockchain for everyone to see. While that often is not be enough to identify the actual parties involved, some transactions, for one reason or another, take very public turns.
Some other addresses, perhaps due to their anonymity, hold such hefty funds as to spur the imagination of many a conspiracy theorist. In any case, the multiplicity of stories told by the bitcoin blockchain in these short ten years certainly make up for a fascinating read.
Here are some pages from this book.
1. The Big Bang
The ultimate pioneer.
This is the first ever address to hold a balance on the blockchain, as reward for the mining of the appropriately named “Genesis block”. The initial reward, 50 BTC, has never been spent or touched by its owner, presumably Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
Over the years, this address has become the first-ever crypto shrine, where people who we can only assume have considerable disposable income throw coins in homage to their crypto gods. Either that, or it’s just a very expensive wishing well.
As of October 2018, this veritable treasure trove has accumulated almost 17 BTC in donations, adding up to 66.86 BTC - close to $430 thousand. Sadly, these tokens of gratitude don’t look like they will be of much use, as Nakamoto has removed him(her)self from the picture years ago and never touched any of his(her) stash.
Plus, since Bitcoin issuance is capped at 21 million coins, these donations are effectively removed from the economy forever - so these devout donors might as well be burning money. The existence of such puzzling behaviour is just another entry at the ledger of human folly.
Our two cents: come play some hands at our live casino, and you can turn your small donation into considerable funding for your favourite charity or project.
This man would really appreciate it
2. Trust me, I'm with the government
It’s no surprise that one of the first use cases for a (pseudo) anonymous currency was so people could buy drugs online. The most notorious case was the Silk Road market, one of the first to operate on the dark web.
In 2013, after a lengthy investigation, the FBI shut down the market and arrested its owner, Ross Ulbricht. In this process, they have seized more than 170,000 BTC, and proved that bitcoin transactions can, in fact, be traced.
However, that was apparently a lesson that DEA agent Carl Force did not learn, despite being part of the multi-agency operation that led to the market’s shutdown. In an appropriate use of his “French Maid” handle, he naughtily extorted Ulbricht in exchange for “law enforcement counter-intel”. His misdeeds were traced to this wallet, and was arrested soon after. Alas, this task force ended badly for Carl.
To be fair, the operation was fraught with widespread corruption, with secret service agent Shaun Bridges also being arrested for theft, and accusations against an unnamed FBI agent who went by the alias of “Diamond”, who was allegedly blackmailing one former Silk Road staff member for a forgotten stash of over 400,000 BTC.
One unsurprising takeaway from this whole charade is that it serves as just another proof that humans can, and usually will, do their very worst when they think no one is watching.
rust us, we're the government
3. Show me yours and I'll show you mine
In December 20, 2013, one reporter learned about wallet security the hard way. Apparently oblivious to the existence of the internet, Bloomberg’s Matt Miller went on to broadcasted his paper wallet’s private key on live national television.
A single frame from the footage was all it took for eagle-eyed redditor milkywaymasta (props for the cool handle) to proceed to drain all of the poor journalist’s bitcoin from the wallet.
Pictured: less-than-ideal wallet safekeeping
Milkywaymasta, who posted the whole thing on a public Reddit thread, described the reporter’s carelessness as “hilarious”, and offered to return the funds - then worth $20.
Miller, however, engaged with the user on Reddit and good-spiritedly dismissed the offer: “So freaking classic but also a GREAT lesson in bitcoin security!” he posted. “You can keep the $20 - well earned!”
Seeing as bitcoin was valued at around $600 at the time, that same lesson today would have cost Miller over 200 dollars - which would put it on par with your mid-range yoga class.
4. A kingly meal
Lo and behold: the address from which Florida resident Laszlo Hanyecz purchased what became arguably the most expensive meal in human history, an event which became known as the Laszlo Pizza Exchange.
On May 17, 2010, Laszlo, a long time Bitcointalk forum member, was feeling quite empty inside - his stomach. Since he couldn’t be bothered to procure provisions himself, he challenged his community members to supply him with two large pizzas (so he would have leftovers to “nibble on in the morning”) in exchange for 10,000 bitcoins.
These being the very early days, it took five days for a fellow forum participant, an unnamed British man, to take on his offer. So, on May 22, two large Papa John pizzas worth $25 were finally delivered to Laszlo’s house.
Laszlo inadvertently registered the historic moment when the pizzas arrived
The deal was a bargain even back then, as 10,000 bitcoins were worth around $41 at the time. But to put it in perspective, at bitcoin’s all-time high, the pizzas would have been valued at $200 million - which is even more impressive as it’s double the annual net income for Papa John’s in 2017, and nearly four times the company’s profits in 2010. That’s some serious dough, there.
The event has since been dubbed by the community as Bitcoin Pizza Day, and is celebrated in parents’ basements throughout the world. Alas, Papa John’s still refuses bitcoin as payment.
5. Secret millionaire
Though not as colourful as the previous entries, this address is certainly noteworthy. Why? Well if you haven’t already clicked the link, you really should. Because the owner of this wallet is holding some serious coin.
While the biggest coin holders are usually crypto exchanges, these are mature wallets, mostly flagged and well-known as such. This, however, is a brand new address, created only three months ago, and funded by one half-a-billion-dollar transaction from another anonymous address with an even heftier balance (around 94,000 coins).
Judging by the latest transactions from both addresses, there seems to be a connection to Chinese OTC crypto broker JUBTC, who in their website take pride in offering the advantages of “[sic] stable price, quick buy with one trade, confidentiality and large amount of Btc.” The latter should go without saying, we suppose.
Is it only JUBTC’s cold wallet? Maybe Satoshi finally made a move from his stash? Or could this be part of the lost treasures of Mt. Gox? There's some Dan Brown-level material here.
Scenes from the next chapter
The cool thing about the blockchain's transparent nature is that it allows for an infinite amount of preposterous hypotheses, and it presents curious minds with an endless source of puzzles. One of its side effects is that it inadvertently doubles as an ever-growing history book, one that is written in code. Its stories are told through individual transactions and span a variety of genres such as mystery, crime, romance and comedy.
And as the ledger keeps growing and people continue being, well, people, we’ll surely uncover lots more remarkable anecdotes. If you don't already, check out our guide on how to find your way around the blockchain. Then quit with the cat pics from yesteryear and go take a crack at some mysteries yourself.
Do you know of any other notable addresses and their history? Drop us a line via Twitter or BitcoinTalk!