In this post we provide a collection of interesting facts about Bitcoin which may surprise, amuse, or even shock you. Hopefully, you’ll pick up some obscure facts which give you deeper insight into the fascinating world of Bitcoin.
1- Honey badger is Bitcoin’s unofficial animal mascot
Honey badgers are renowned for their toughness. They can withstand terrible injuries, bee attacks, and bites from poisonous snakes. This resilient animal seemed like a good fit for Bitcoin, which has survived all kinds of attacks since its creation.
2- A bug led to the creation of 184 billion BTC in 2010
Known as the value overflow incident, this bug resulted in the accidental creation of a massive number of coins in August of 2010 at block height 74638. Satoshi or some other developer fixed the error within 5 hours by releasing a patched Bitcoin client (version 0.3.10) which ignored the excess coins. As a majority of miners and nodes accepted this new client, the error was “forked out” and erased from the blockchain.
3- The maximum number of bitcoins isn’t really 21 million
It is one of the interesting facts about bitcoin. Actually, the maximum number of bitcoins is 20,999,987.4769 or thereabouts. It seems that the last bitcoin amount will be mined sometime between the years 2128 and 2140. The number is lower than the frequently-cited figure due to Satoshi’s block reward mechanism, which doesn’t quite reach 21 million, but also due to mining errors which have negated the production of new coins. It’s possible that future errors will decline total supply even further.
4- A smaller unit than one satoshi is already in use
Bitcoin’s value may finally increase so high that 1 satoshi becomes too valuable for the smallest possible transaction. In this scenario, Bitcoin’s code will likely be altered to add more decimal places, allowing for smaller units. This wouldn’t be inflationary though, as no new BTCs would be created, existing ones would just be “sliced finer.”
On the Lightning Network layer however, milli-satoshis are already available. One millisatoshi (abbreviated as “msat”) is worth one thousandth of a satoshi. In numbers, it looks like this: 0.000,000,000,001 BTC.
5- Carnivory, or eating mostly or only meat, has become a fad in the Bitcoin community
It’s not clear how this practice began but it was first reported by journalists in 2017. Several prominent Bitcoiners are involved and they occasionally hold “meatup” dinners which coincide with major Bitcoin conferences.
6- Bitcoin’s uptime is in the coveted “four nines” range
The network has been functional for 99.98% of the time since its creation. This compares extremely well with standard centralized services, which are considered to be doing well if they hit four nines in a single month.
The downtime was due to the bug discussed before. You can check the current uptime stats here.
7- Bitcoin’s downtime resulted from the LevelDB bug, which caused a hardfork in 2013
The 0.8 version of the bitcoin client was upgraded to use a more efficient form of database (used for storing blockchain data on the user’s machine), but the new structure, LevelDB, wasn’t fully compatible with the old, BerkeleyDB. Consequently, the network split between users running the new and old versions.
Thanks to developers and pool operators notifying large miners as to which version they should run, the “original” side of the fork soon accumulated more blocks. It took about 6 hours for the split to resolve.
8- Satoshi Nakomoto disappeared right after Gavin Andresen went to the CIA
Gavin Andresen was the former maintainer of the Bitcoin Core codebase. In June of 2012, Gavin went to the CIA’s headquarters to tell them about Bitcoin (BTC).
According to Gavin’s words on Bruce Wagner’s Bitcoin podcast, Satoshi’s disappearance may have been linked to that meeting. Andresen said that he hadn’t received an email from Satoshi since telling him about the meeting with the CIA.
In 2014, Gavin appeared before the Council on Foreign Relations to present similar information.
9- Bitcoin was used to circumvent the WikiLeaks banking blockade, to Satoshi’s displeasure
In 2011, under pressure from the Obama administration, major American banks and payment services imposed a financial ban on WikiLeaks. People looking to support the organization used BTC to get around the ban, proving Bitcoin’s utility as censorship-resistant money.
However, Satoshi was concerned, worrying the hostile attention from powerful players which support for WikiLeaks would bring to the project. Satoshi disappeared from the project soon afterwards.
10- The earliest Bitcoin faucets dispensed 5 BTC per visitor
In June of 2010, Gavin Andresen created the first Bitcoin faucet to distribute 5 free bitcoins per day to anyone who asked for them. At the time, BTC was worth very little and the faucet was funded with well over 1,000 BTC. Based on the current price, it’s shocking to think how much value was given away for free.
11- There are hundreds of Bitcoin Core developers
Bitcoin Core is the main reference client for flagship cryptocurrency. Many other wallets exist but Core is the standard for maintaining compatibility between them.
12- The FBI agents involved in the Silk Road darknet investigation were themselves criminals
Silk Road was the famous darknet drug market which enabled people to trade narcotics for Bitcoin. Two former Secret Service agents were assigned to shutting down Silk Road. However, after the site was taken down in 2013, these two agents were themselves imprisoned. Charges of extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice were brought against the agents for their misconduct during the Silk Road investigation.
13- There are fewer bitcoins than millionaires in the world
According to a 2017 report by Credit Suisse, there are 36 million Dollar millionaires in the world. As there are only around 17 million bitcoins in existence out of a future total of just under 21 million, this shows there aren’t enough bitcoins for every millionaire to own one.
Those who hold 1 BTC are said to be part of the “21 million club,” whereas those who own 21 BTC are said to be part of the “one in a million club.”
14- Bitcoin mining consumes about as much energy as a mid-size country
Bitcoin’s energy usage is estimated at 73 Terawatt-hours (TWh). This is a little more than the consumption of the nation of Chile, which has a population of about 18 million.
Bitcoin mining is only economical if it uses cheap power as an input. Such power tends to be renewable, like hydro and geothermal. Assuming Bitcoin scales via additional layers, such as the Lightning Network which doesn’t impose additional energy costs, Bitcoin may finally become a more efficient use of resources than the traditional monetary system.
15- The economist Milton Friedman predicted Bitcoin
Renowned American economist and Nobel Laureate, Milton Friedman, forecasted a system very much like Bitcoin in 1999. In this recorded statement, Friedman lays out his vision for a future, internet-based “e-cash” beyond the control of the state.
16- The politics of Bitcoiners is probably somewhat right-leaning
According to a study conducted by a crypto news site in 2018, the majority of the cryptocurrency users polled identify as liberal. However, different coin communities have different attitudes.
55% of Bitcoiners identified as right of the political center, which is not surprising given that libertarians and crypto-anarchists were early adopters of cryptocurrency. There is also a clearly established trend within Bitcoin against centralized “big government” solutions. The stats were reversed for Ethereum users, who reportedly display a 55% leftwards skew.
17- The first recorded Bitcoin transaction was for a pizza
Back in 2010, 100,000 bitcoins were traded for two Papa John’s pizzas, worth about $25. A coder named Laszlo Hanyecz in America arranged the trade with a British user, “jercos,” in the BitcoinTalk forum. The Brit arranged a transatlantic payment to the pizzeria, which delivered the pizza to Laszlo. This first trade is commemorated on the date it took place, the 22nd of May, by Bitcoiners globally.
18- A second Bitcoin Pizza Day occurred in February of 2018
Laszlo made Bitcoin history for a second time when he ordered pizza via Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. LN is still new technology with some rough edges, but back in February it was still considered “reckless” to use with real BTC.
19- A Bitcoin (BTC) developer saved Bitcoin Cash (BCH) from a chain split
Cory Fields has been involved in Bitcoin Core development since 2013. In April of 2018, he privately altered the Bitcoin Cash developers to a potentially fatal flaw in their code. If exploited, the bug could have resulted in the BCH network splitting. When offered a $100,000 bug bounty reward, Fields requested that it be donated to charity.
20- Some Venezuelans are Surviving Economic Collapse by Mining Bitcoin
Venezuela’s seizure of private property has resulted in economic failure, resource scarcity, and monetary hyperinflation. One way Venezuelans are coping is to mine Bitcoin with their cheap, subsidized power. These subsidies make electricity prices in the country the cheapest in the world. People with access to mining equipment are using it to get by.
The government does not look kindly on the practice however, and is trying to end it. However, there are credible reports that government officials are using expropriated ASIC miners to enrich themselves through mining BTC.
21- Former Bitcoin Core developer, Mike Hearn, “ragequit” in 2016 while damning Bitcoin as “a failed experiment”
Mike Hearn grew despondent regarding Bitcoin’s development. Mike had disagreed with other developers over Bitcoin’s proposed scaling path for ages. In January of 2014, Mike wrote a lengthy, pessimistic article, in which he announced his decision to quit. BitTorrent creator, Bram Cohen, famously described Mike’s decision as a “whiny ragequit.”
22- Satoshi Nakomoto did not foresee mining pools or ASIC hardware
One of the interesting facts about crypto is that when Satoshi created Bitcoin, ASIC miners didn’t exist. He envisioned that Bitcoin would be mined on user’s CPUs. However, GPUs were soon discovered to be far more efficient and specialized FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) and finally ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) were soon developed. Fortunately, Satoshi’s Difficulty mechanism kept the system in balance.
Another thing which the founder didn’t expect was the emergence of mining pools. Instead of users mining individually, as per Satoshi’s “one CPU, one vote” design methodology, pools enable users to combine their hash rate. Greater combined hashrate increases the odds of solving blocks more frequently, with the rewards shared among pool members in proportion to their hashrate.
23- Bitcoin private keys are integers between 1 and 1077
If you were able to make a trillion guesses per second, you’d have to guess for about 3.3 decillion (1033) years to find the private key to a specific Bitcoin address. Of course it’s always possible that scientific advances, like quantum computing, could make it feasible to crack a Bitcoin address. In this case, Bitcoin would have to hard fork to quantum-resistant cryptography.
24- A Bitcoiner advertised Bitcoin during former Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s speech
The prankster held up a sign reading “Buy Bitcoin” as Janet Yellen was delivering her testimony before the House Financial Services panel in mid-2017. It was a funny moment as the event was being broadcast live. The Bitcoin community identified the sign-holder and sent him a donation of $10,000.