It’s January 3rd 2020 and today marks 11 years since the Genesis Block being mined back in 2009. For those who missed my Crypto Jargon series, a genesis block is the first block of a blockchain. Modern versions of Bitcoin number it as block 0, though very early versions counted it as block 1. The genesis block is almost always hardcoded into the software of the applications that utilize its blockchain and it’s a special case since it does not reference a previous block, and for bitcoin and almost all of its derivatives, it produces an unspendable subsidy.
The hash of the genesis block is: 000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f
It has two more leading hex zeroes than were required for an early block and what is unique for this hash is that it contains a quote from the front page of The Times newspaper – one of the most respected British media outlets which reads:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”
This was probably intended as proof that the block was created on January 3 2009, as well as a comment on the instability caused by fractional-reserve banking.
Additionally, it suggests that Satoshi Nakamoto may have lived in the United Kingdom and in my opinion it is very likely that he (or they) be British or at least European since it is not very common for an American to quote British media. This is just a personal conviction of course. The fact that the white paper was released in English (and well-written too) also points to the fact that he (or they) is most likely a westerner despite the Asian pseudonym.
The detail : “second bailout for banks” also suggests that the act of a supposedly liberal and capitalist system, rescuing banks in this manner, was a problem for Satoshi. Hence why we take it as given that the purpose of bitcoin’s conception was something to do with challenging the current monetary system and opposing the threat of a centralised, self-serving, elitist, banking dictatorship.
The raw hex version of the Genesis block looks like this:
Although the average time between Bitcoin blocks is 10 minutes, the timestamp of the next block is a full 6 days after the genesis block. One interpretation is that Satoshi was working on bitcoin for some time beforehand and the The Times front page prompted him to release it to the public. He then mined the genesis block with a timestamp in the past to match the headline. It is also possible that, since the block’s hash is so low, he may have spent 6 days mining it with the same timestamp before proceeding to block 1. The prenet hypothesis suggests that the genesis block was solved on January 3, but the software was tested by Satoshi Nakamoto using that genesis block until January 9, when all the test blocks were deleted and the genesis block was reused for the main network.
What is also interesting about the Genesis block is that the first 50 BTC block reward went to address 1A1zP1eP5QGefi2DMPTfTL5SLmv7DivfNa but this reward cannot be spent due to a quirk in the way that the genesis block is expressed in the code.
It is not known if this was done intentionally or accidentally. It is believed that other outputs sent to this address are spendable, but it is unknown if Satoshi Nakamoto has the private key for this particular address, if one existed at all.
Many years later the much-hated impostor Craig Wright attempted to claim ownership of the bitcoin invention, going as far as claiming he was Satoshi himself but was repeatedly disgraced by not being able to produce the private key to this address, later claiming that he was afraid to do so, even though he was so desperate to be regarded as the creator of bitcoin. In a court ruling last year, Wright was disproved once again and was ordered to pay half of his bitcoin fortune (that he claims to have mined in the early years) to the estate of Dave Kleiman whom he was in business partnership with for some time.
While the original Genesis Block contained 50 bitcoins, people have been sending the address bitcoins in tribute to Nakamoto since the early days of the system. These donations and tips take on an even more symbolic meaning as its quite possible that they are unable to be spent when they join the original address. It’s unknown if Nakamoto’s intent was to not let the 50 bitcoins in the original block be spendable or if it was an oversight, but the Genesis Block has become synonymous with Nakamoto and exists as both the backbone of the entire project and as a kind of shrine for fans of Nakamoto to throw their bitcoins into, kind of like a wishing well.
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