Bitcoin Fans Celebrate the 13th Anniversary of Its Seminal White Paper

by Tor Constantino | Published on Nov. 1, 2021

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Man looking at charts on a computer screen while holding gold Bitcoin.

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The white paper that conceptualized blockchain technology, and also named Bitcoin, was published 13 years ago on Oct. 31, 2008.


Key points

  • Thirteen years after its creation, Bitcoin continues to fulfill its mission toward economic equality for anyone who wants it without banking or financial go-betweens.
  • Over the past decade, Bitcoin has produced annualized returns in excess of 230%, 10 times over any other asset class for the same time period.

Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of Satoshi Nakamoto's posting of the original Bitcoin white paper titled "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System," on Oct. 31, 2008. The document is only nine pages long, comprised of just 3,192 words, and its author is an anonymous mystery. No one knows if it was one person or a cabal of rogue developers who penned the piece that surfaced from the cyberpunk community during the 2008 global monetary meltdown.

Fans of the first modern cryptocurrency marked the anniversary with posts and memes across social media. Blockchain and crypto investment firm Pantera Capital had the pages converted to wallpaper and used it to decorate its offices. While Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the billionaire founders of Gemini crypto exchange, have reportedly signed a three-year deal to rotate 150 phrases lifted from the white paper on a high-profile billboard, which previously promoted CNN, in New York City. The Winklevoss twins then plan to convert images of each of those outdoor ads into small-scale NFTs for sale.

Why was Bitcoin even needed?

Needless to say, support and adoption for cryptocurrencies -- Bitcoin in particular -- continues to grow all these years later, and here's why.

As alluded to earlier, the 2008 financial crisis came to a head after years of unfettered promotion, as well as the use and sketchy bundling of financial vehicles including subprime housing loans and underfunded credit default swaps. Big banking and financial fiefdoms rocketed those assets to the top and then pocketed massive gains before the drop -- cratering the U.S. economy and others around the world.

The author(s) of the Bitcoin white paper decided to put their eggheads together and outline an elegant software solution -- that's what cryptocurrencies are at their core, software just like apps on your phone -- that allows strangers to engage in direct economic transactions with each other without needing banks, lenders, or financial go-betweens. "What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party," reads an excerpt from the Bitcoin white paper.

Bitcoin -- the best performing asset of the decade??

Since its inception, Bitcoin has been both extremely volatile and extremely profitable. In a tweet from March of this year, Charlie Bilello, CEO of Compound Capital, declared Bitcoin the best performing asset of the decade and backed it up with data to prove it.

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According to Bilello's tweeted chart, Bitcoin produced more than a 230% return on an annualized basis over the past 10 years, which was 10 times over the next best performing asset class, the Nasdaq 100. Bitcoin beat every other asset including: U.S. large cap stocks; REITs; preferred stocks; Treasuries; junk bonds; investment-grade bonds; gold; U.S. dollars; and commodities.

Despite those results, many vocal and powerful critics continue to claim Bitcoin is "worthless" while others compare it to a ponzi scheme, gambling, "rat poison squared," and the obligatory "investment bubble" trope. But 13 years into this Bitcoin phenomenon, which has a current market capitalization of $1.16 trillion, if it's in fact a bubble, it has to be one tough, resilient bubble.

Furthermore, it's difficult to ignore the influx of funds from institutional investors into the Bitcoin "bubble" this year alone. And last time I checked that investor class tends not to invest in scratch-off games or three-card monte. Thirteen years after its creation, Bitcoin continues to fulfill its mission, while its critics continue to miss the mark.

In its application, the Bitcoin white paper continues to aspire to its written promise of economic equality using only a mobile device to engage in person-to-person encrypted, instant, cheap, global financial transactions for the 1.7 billion unbanked people on the planet who don't have access to a checking account. That's an idea that's worth celebrating.

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