The Legacy of Bitcoin Pizza Day

The Legacy of Bitcoin Pizza Day

The Legacy of Bitcoin Pizza Day

May 22, 2024

General Wallet Use

5 min

On May 22, 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz spent $710,000,000 on Papa John’s. 

Well, not really. He sent a then 19-year-old Jeremy Sturdivant 10,000 Bitcoin in exchange for two Papa John’s pizzas. Way back then, that was about $41 worth of BTC. While he may have wished he hung onto that BTC in retrospect, what Hanyecz – and Sturdivant – proved once and for all was that bitcoin could be used for everyday transactions.

Isn’t that worth more than $710,000,000?

These days, you can buy just about anything in BTC, and these two early Bitcoin users played no small part in laying the foundation for that reality. In 2019, Hanyecz told CBS he thinks his 2010 pizza order, “made [bitcoin] real for some people. It certainly did for me.” 

Looking back, it’s highly likely that this simple transaction was the genesis of the Bitcoin we have today. A humble Papa John’s order was the first domino to fall, igniting a vast chain reaction that has since entirely reshaped the global financial landscape, thrust cryptocurrencies in the mainstream imagination, and spawned an entire ecosystem of amazing projects that have helped hundreds of millions of people grasp firmer control of their financial freedom. 

Now, Bitcoin Pizza Day is a celebration of just how much Bitcoin and its community have changed, how far we’ve come, and a reminder that incredible things often start in the last place you’d expect. 

Bitcoin's Journey Since Bitcoin Pizza Day

Just how far have we come since 2010? Prior to the first halving in 2012, the block reward for miners was 50 BTC. A miner would need to mine 200 blocks to come up with 10,000 BTC on rewards alone. Back then, that was far less difficult to do given how relatively few people were in the space. But now, given a block reward of 3.125 BTC, you’d need to mine 3,200 blocks to reap the same reward. 

Fast forward to 2024, and you wouldn’t need to mine even one block to afford that order today. $41 is about 0.0005 BTC. It is impossible to overstate just how much things have changed since those very early days, just 14 months after Satoshi Nakamoto’s seminal whitepaper. 

This year, we’re spending Bitcoin Pizza day looking specifically at how BTC transactions have evolved since 2010, from the humble beginnings of P2P address-to-address transactions, to the first exchanges, and every major milestone that has led to the present. 

Without a wallet, you have nothing. The very first of these was the ‘Genesis Wallet’ or Bitcoin-Qt, developed by Nakamoto and largely used for seeding the network in the early days. It was also used to complete the very first transaction on the network, when Nakamoto sent Hal Finney 10 BTC to prove the network’s capabilities. 

Not long after, basic software wallets that fully automated the transaction process would spring up, and mobile-native wallets like Electrum’s Android-based wallet would soon follow. These early mobile wallets drastically increased Bitcoin’s efficacy. Users could take their holdings with them wherever they went, and transact on the network on the move from two completely different points on the globe. 

What Can Bitcoin Users Do With Their BTC Today?

As Bitcoin began to flow more freely, exchanges sprang up to mediate increasing demand for the digital commodity, allowing non crypto-natives to purchase BTC in fiat. Coinbase, Kraken, and Bitstamp were all operating by 2013. While the obvious price speculation aspect of the advent of exchanges has undoubtedly resulted in Bitcoin’s growth, their existence has also helped onboard millions of crypto-curious people who believe in Bitcoin in its own right. Around this time, many more projects designed to help people transact with Bitcoin were entering the ecosystem with a brand new audience that would continue to grow. 

These new projects were entering the fray at the perfect time, as well. After the 2014 Mt. Gox hack, in which 850,000 BTC was stolen from the then-biggest crypto exchange on the planet, Bitcoin builders and users started to take major steps to ensure the security of their assets and their transactions. 

Decentralized finance (DeFi) was perhaps the most important of these steps. DeFi involves fully distributed financial networks that operate on permissionless and non-custodial protocols. These networks are less susceptible to the attack vectors that target centralized exchanges, and allow users to transact directly with their counterparties rather than routing transaction information and assets through third parties. 

DeFi has also exposed crypto holders to a wide array of Bitcoin-backed technology that has expanded the definition of what a transaction on the Bitcoin network is. Projects that host NFTs, newer protocols like Ordinals which allow users to inscribe multimedia data into their BTC, Bitcoin-native gaming, and a thriving ecosystem of crypto-native Web3 projects are all a direct result of the rise of DeFi and just the tip of the things-you-can-do-with-Bitcoin iceberg. 

This brings us to where we are today, on the 14th anniversary of Bitcoin Pizza Day. From the very first transaction to the myriad ways Bitcoin can now be used to interact with the Web3 world – and yes, you can still buy pizza – Bitcoin has always been innovative.

That first transaction, a somewhat cumbersome yet inventive way of getting from no Papa John’s to Papa John’s marked the beginning of nearly a decade and a half of the community inventing new ways to interact with the world at large, build and deploy their assets in the real world, and develop an entirely new financial system. 

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