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The Decade in Blockchain — 2010 to 2020 in Review

Follow the timeline of blockchain's growth from Satoshi Nakamoto and the Genesis Block to Ethereum and decentralized finance.

By ConsenSys

December 3, 2019

On January 3rd, 2009, in the wake of a global financial crisis that accelerated the growing chasm of inequality throughout world economies, a mysterious figure named Satoshi Nakamoto launched a virtual currency named Bitcoin that functioned atop what s/he called a ‘Proof of Work chain.’ 

In its ‘genesis block,’ Nakamoto permanently embedded a brief line of text into the data that signaled the inspiration behind the newfangled tech: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”

It was a rallying cry for a better way. What proceeded over the next decade has been a stratospheric rollercoaster ride for cryptocurrencies and digital assets, alongside the early phases of a total reworking of economic and human systems atop a philosophy of decentralization and democratization of access to value. 

There have been inconceivable highs and corresponding lows in the ten plus years since Bitcoin’s genesis block, as development of blockchain technology and awareness of its potential marches ever forward. As this decade draws to a close, it’s an opportune moment to view ten years of blockchain development in retrospective. The technology has grown from a digital currency worth only pennies to an emerging pillar of global economic systems—and it’s still just getting started. 

Some context before we begin: As 2009 saw its end, blockchain development was limited. In fact, the first transactions ever to take place on the Bitcoin network were undertaken in December of 2009. The BitcoinTalk Forum, an early hotbed for blockchain developers, went live in November. The blockchain ecosystem was limited to a handful of technologists and developers with only an inkling of the phenomenon that they had already set in motion…

2010

February — The first ever cryptocurrency exchange, Bitcoin Market, is established. The first trade takes place a month later. 

April — The first public bitcoin trade takes place: 1000BTC traded for $30 at an exchange rate of  0.03USD/1BTC 

May — The first real-world bitcoin transaction is undertaken by Laszlo Hanyecz, who paid 10000BTC for two Papa John’s pizzas (Approximately $25 USD)

June —  Bitcoin developer Gavin Andreson creates a faucet offering 5 free BTC to the public

July — First notable usage of the word “blockchain” appears on BitcoinTalk forum. Prior to this, it was referred to as ‘Proof-of-Work chain’ 

July — Bitcoin exchange named Magic The Gathering Online eXchange—also known as Mt. Gox—established

August —Bitcoin protocol bug leads to emergency hard fork

December — Satoshi Nakamoto ceases communication with the world 

2011

January — One-quarter of the eventual total of 21M bitcoins have been generated 

February — Bitcoin reaches parity for the first time with USD 

April — Bitcoin reaches parity with EUR and GBP 

June — WikiLeaks begins accepting Bitcoin donations 

June — Mt. Gox hacked, resulting in suspension of trading and a precipitous price drop for Bitcoin

August — First Bitcoin Improvement Proposal: BIP Purpose and Guidelines 

October — Litecoin released 

December — Bitcoin featured as a major plot element in an episode of ‘The Good Wife’ as 9.45 million viewers watch.

2012

May — Bitcoin Magazine, founded by Mihai Alisie and Vitalik Buterin, publishes first issue 

July — Government of Estonia begins incorporating blockchain into digital ID efforts

September — Bitcoin Foundation created

September — Coinbase raises over $600k in funding

October — BitPay reports having over 1,000 merchants accepting bitcoin under its payment processing service

November — First Bitcoin halving to 25 BTC per block 

2013

February — Reddit begins accepting bitcoins for Gold memberships

March — Cyprus government bailout levies bank accounts with over $100k. Flight to Bitcoin results in major price spike.

May —Total Bitcoin value surpasses 1 billion USD with 11M Bitcoin in circulation 

May — The first cryptocurrency market rally and crash takes place. Prices rise from $13 to $220, and then drop to $70

June — First major cryptocurrency theft. 25,000 BTC is stolen from Bitcoin forum founder 

July — Mastercoin becomes the first project to conduct an ICO

August — U.S. Federal Court issues opinion that Bitcoin is a currency or form of money

October — The FBI shuts down dark web marketplace Silk Road, confiscating approximately 26,000 bitcoins

October — The first Bitcoin ATM begins operating at Waves Coffee Shop in Vancouver

November — Vitalik Buterin releases the Ethereum White Paper: “A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform” 

November — Bitmain announces the release of the S1 Miner

November — People’s Bank of China okays Bitcoin, trading volume in the country surges to the global lead

November — Bitcoin breaks US$1,000

November — US Senate holds first ever hearings on Bitcoin

December — The first commit to the Ethereum codebase takes place

December — Chinese authorities revert stance on Bitcoin, declare it is not a currency.

2014

January — Vitalik Buterin announces Ethereum at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami 

February — HMRC in the UK classifies Bitcoin as private money 

February — Major DDoS attack against three major exchanges: Mt. Gox, Bitstamp, and BTC-e

February — Mt. Gox goes offline, files for bankruptcy protection. Over 850,000 BTC are unaccounted. 

March — IRS provides guidance that virtual currency will be treated as property for U.S. tax purposes 

March — Credit-card processor Stripe begins accepting Bitcoin

March — Newsweek claims Dorian Nakamoto is Bitcoin creator. He is not

April — Gavin Wood releases the Ethereum Yellow Paper: “Ethereum: A Secure Decentralised Generalised Transaction Ledger” 

June — Ethereum Foundation established in Zug, Switzerland

June — US Marshals Service auctions off 30,000 Bitcoin confiscated from Silk Road. All are purchased by venture capitalist Tim Draper 

July — Ethereum token launch raises 31,591 BTC ($18,439,086) over 42 days

July — BitUSD, the first stablecoin, launched by BitShares

September — TeraExchange launches first U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved Bitcoin over-the-counter swap 

October — ConsenSys is founded by Joe Lubin 

December — By year’s end, Paypal, Zynga, Overstock.com, Expedia, Newegg, Dell, Dish Network, and Microsoft are all accepting Bitcoin for payments 

2015

January — Coinbase opens up the first U.S-based cryptocurrency exchange

February — Stripe initiates bitcoin payment integration for merchants

April — NASDAQ initiates blockchain trial

June — NYDFS releases final version of its BitLicense virtual currency regulations 

July — Ethereum’s first live mainnet release—Frontier—launched.

August — Augur, the first token launch on the Ethereum network takes place

September — R3 consortium formed with nine financial institutions, increases to over 40 members within six months

October — Gemini exchange launches, founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss

October — Bitcoin featured on the front cover of The Economist 

November — Announcement of first zero knowledge proof, ZK-Snarks

November — ERC-20 token standard is proposed

December — Linux Foundation establishes Hyperledger project

December — WIRED claims that Craig Wright is probably Satoshi Nakamoto

December — Pieter Wuille releases “Segregated witness and its impact on scalability” (SegWit) 

2016

January — Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja release “The Bitcoin Lightning Network: Scalable On-Chain Instant Payments” 

January — Zcash announced 

February — HyperLedger project announced by Linux Foundation with thirty founding members 

March — Blockchain and cryptocurrency feature heavily in the Chinese government’s 5-year plan

March — Second Ethereum mainnet release, Homestead, is rolled out. 

April — The DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) launches a 28-day crowdsale. After one month, it raises an Ether value of more than US$150M

May — Chinese Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium launches with 31 members 

June — The DAO is attacked with 3.6M of the 11.5M Ether in The DAO redirected to the attacker’s Ethereum account

July — The DAO attack results in a hard fork of the Ethereum Blockchain to recover funds. A minority group rejecting the hard fork continues to use the original blockchain renamed Ethereum Classic

July — Second Bitcoin halving to 12.5BTC per block mined

November — CME Launches Bitcoin Price Index 

2017

January — Bitcoin price breaks US$1,000 for the first time in three years

February — Enterprise Ethereum Alliance formed with 30 founding members, over 150 members six months later

March — Multiple applications for Bitcoin ETFs rejected by the SEC

April — Bitcoin is officially recognized as currency by Japan 

June — EOS begins its year-long ICO, eventually raising $4 billion

July — Parity hack exposes weaknesses in multisig wallets

August — Bitcoin Cash forks from the Bitcoin Network 

October — Ethereum releases Byzantium soft fork network upgrade, part one of Metropolis

September — China bans ICOs

September — Amount locked in decentralized finance apps reaches $1 million 

October — Bitcoin price surpasses $5,000 USD for the first time

October — CME announces Bitcoin futures

November — Bitcoin price surpasses $10,000 USD for the first time 

November — Segwit2X is cancelled after a groundswell of concern from the Bitcoin community

November — Devcon3 in Cancun raises capacity twice to accommodate developer demand 

December — CBOE Bitcoin futures are launched

December — Bitcoin price touches $20,000 USD

December — Lightning Network Protocol 1.0 released 

December — Ethereum Dapp Cryptokitties goes viral, pushing the Ethereum network to its limits 

December — MakerDAO launches DAI, signaling a future for decentralized finance 

December — Long Island Iced Tea Corp. renames itself Long Blockchain Corp in a publicity stunt. Its stock price rises more than 200% at trading open

December — Median transaction fee for the Bitcoin network reaches a peak of $34 USD

December — Austrian government founds the Research Institute for Cryptoeconomy

December — 2017 sees 435 successful ICOs raising a cumulative total of over $5.6 billion USD

2018

January — Switzerland begins accepting tax payments in Bitcoin

January — 80% of all Bitcoin has been mined

January — Ethereum price peaks near $1400 USD

January — Total cryptocurrency market cap peaks at over $800 billion

January — Facebook bans all ads pertaining to cryptocurrency

March — Google bans all ads pertaining to cryptocurrency

March — Twitter bans all ads pertaining to cryptocurrency

April — 2018 outpaces 2017 with $6.3 billion raised in token launches in the first four months of the year

April — EU government commits $300 million to developing blockchain projects

April — Over 1,500 cryptocurrencies with a total market cap of $43 million

June — The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission states that Ether is not a security.

June — South Korean government invests millions into blockchain development initiatives

July — Over 100,000 ERC20 tokens created

August — New York Stock Exchange owner announces Bakkt, a federally regulated digital asset exchange

August — Monetary Authority of Singapore launches Project Ubin, proving interbank settlement use cases for Ethereum

October — Fidelity launches institutional platform for cryptocurrencies

October — Bitcoin’s 10th birthday

November — VC investment in blockchain tech surpasses $1 billion 

November — Bitcoin Cash hard forks into Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV

December — 90% of banks in the US and Europe report exploration of blockchain tech 

December — Kaspersky report claims that 19% of the global population purchased cryptocurrency prior to 2019 

December — Over $2o billion USD raised in token launches throughout the year

2019

January — Coinstar machines begin selling cryptocurrency at grocery stores across the US

February — Ethereum’s Constantinople hard fork is released, part two of Metropolis

April — Bitcoin surpasses 400 million total transactions 

June — Daily Ethereum transactions surpass one million 

June — Facebook announces Libra 

July — United States senate holds hearings titled ‘Examining Regulatory Frameworks for Digital Currencies and Blockchain”

August — Ethereum developer dominance reaches 4x that of any other blockchain

October — Block.One fined $24 million by the SEC for its unregulated $4 billion EOS ICO

October — Over 80 million distinct Ethereum addresses have been created 

September — Santander bank settles both sides of a $20 million bond on Ethereum 

November — Over 3000 Dapps created. Of them, 2700 are built on Ethereum 

November — Amount of Ether locked in Decentralized Finance apps reaches all time high of 2.7 million ETH.