Bitcoin is a new kind of money that was invented just a few years ago, and recently became worldwide news. Basically, it's a currency that is not backed by any bank or nation and allows for private monetary exchanges between two individuals. It started out being worth fractions of a penny, but is now hovering around $800 for 1 Bitcoin. Do you want to learn more? Then read on...
1The Inventor of Bitcoin is a Mystery
In 2008, a person going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto uploaded a whitepaper to a cryptology mailing list that was entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” In this document he outlined the concept of this crypto-currency, which uses no central bank or authority to allow financial transactions between two anonymous people. Lo and behold, Bitcoin was born! The thing is that nobody knows exactly WHO this Satoshi actually is. After Bitcoin was up-and-running, his communications became very limited, and then disappeared altogether in mid-2010. Meanwhile, the value of Bitcoins have steadily soared, leading to speculation that, whoever he is, he is probably very rich (at least in theory).
2The 10,000 BTC Pizza
At least it was two-for-one.
Money is only money if you can use it to purchase something of value. So in the early days of Bitcoin, it was still very much a “theory,” and the coins were worth a fraction of a cent. On May 22, 2010, a guy named Laszlo Hanyecz agreed to give a guy in England 10,000 Bitcoins (BTC) if the guy ordered him a pizza from Laszlo's local Papa John's and had it delivered. As proof, Laszlo uploaded the above photo, and the first “real world” Bitcoin transaction occurred. As the price of Bitcoins have slowly increased from cents to dollars to now HUNDREDS of dollars, that pizza is theoretically getting more expensive all the time!
3Police Chief Agrees to Be Paid in Bitcoin
There's no word as to whether he wants to be called "Chief Bitcoin."
Bitcoin is making headlines nearly every day as more and more people are aware of it and begin to use it. The police chief of the tiny town of Vicco, KY (population <300) was in the news for asking to receive his salary in Bitcoin, and the city complied. This would be the first instance of a government entity being paid in the e-currency.
4Pay for College with Bitcoin
University of Nicosia in Cyprus, Greece began offering a Master of Science Degree in Digital Currency, so it made sense that they would accept tuition for the program in Bitcoin. Cypress is also striving to be the world's “hub” for Bitcoin transactions.
57,500 Bitcoins are Thrown Out with a Hard Drive
It's got to be here somewhere...
Since there is no central bank or authority when it comes to Bitcoins, that means it's up to you to keep track of yours! While this lack of regulation is part of its appeal, it also means that Bitcoins can “disappear” if the user's e-wallet is not backed up regularly. Here's the story of one poor fellow named James Howells, an early adaptor to Bitcoin, who had 7,500 BTC on a hard drive. While doing a bit of spring cleaning, without thinking he threw the hard drive into the trash and now it's gone forever. Boo hoo!
6Forgotten Bitcoins are Worth Hundreds of Thousands
Kristofer Koch is trying to contain his excitement.
Sometimes, “forgetting” about Bitcoins is a good thing (as long as you keep them!) A Norwegian man named Kristoffer Koch bought 5,000 BTC for $27 US in 2009 on a whim. Between that time and October 2013, the price rose so much that he was able to buy an apartment in the wealthy section of Oslo by selling off 1,000 BTC.
7"Life on Bitcoin" Marriage Experiment
Marriage is a bit...coin. Wanting to show their commitment to each other as well as the crypto-currency they love, one young couple conducted what they called “Life on Bitcoin.” In July 2013, Provo, Utah couple Austin Craig and Beccy Bingham took a vow to use nothing but Bitcoin as their money for the first 90 days of their marriage. They filmed it for a documentary (of course) and continue to regularly update their blog for their followers.
8Bitcoins in Space
"We accept Bitcoin!"
Billionaire Richard Bransen has always been on the cutting-edge of innovation, so it makes sense that his latest project also accepts cutting-edge currency. Virgin Galactic, the theoretical space travel adventure club for millionaires, now accepts Bitcoin. Perhaps the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto is a candidate for such a trip!
9Bitcoins to Fix Your Face
Want a new nose? You can pay for it with Bitcoin. The aptly-named Vanity Plastic Surgery in Miami, Florida accepts the e-currency for all of its services, including tummy tucks and breast lifts.
10ZhouTonged is a Bitcoin-Themed Parody Band
Finally, what currency would be complete without its own parody band. ZhouTong are a duo of musicians who create and sing songs about Bitcoin based on other popular songs, much like “Weird” Al Yankovic. Here they are performing a song called "Mr. Bitcoin," a parody of the Chordettes' “Mr. Sandman.”