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Bitcoin halvings, past and present

Apr 22, 2024

The data shows that most of you reading this have never experienced a Bitcoin halving before. We’re going to take a quick trip through history to review some key events and historical landmarks over previous halving years and see how far we’ve come:

Let’s start in 2012, the first halving when Bitcoin block subsidies dropped from 50 BTC to 25 BTC. Regardless of anything else that happened, this event was the first time that Satoshi Nakamoto’s programmatic monetary theory was put to the test. And it works.

A lot of other stuff happened too.

  • Coinbase was founded in 2012, one year after Kraken.
  • Bitfinex was also founded in 2012.
  • And LocalBitcoins was founded in 2012.
  • The first Bitcoin mining ASIC was introduced in 2012.

Bitcoin historian Pete Rizzo resurfaced an iconic photo of four early Bitcoin figures celebrating the first halving at a conference in 2012 (the price was $12). And in his first public remarks on Bitcoin, Square CEO Jack Dorsey in September 2012 told an engineering class at the University of Michigan, “ “If [bitcoin] becomes huge and accepted in the world, Square will accept it.” And they did.

Bitcoin price moved between a low of just $4.20 to a high of $13.50 that year.

Fast forward four years, and the 2016 halving marked another historic period for Bitcoin. But it certainly wasn’t a fun year. In fact, 2016 started as such a difficult year that The Washington Post published an article in January titled “R.I.P., Bitcoin. It’s time to move on.”

Twenty-seven other “bitcoin obituaries” were also published that year, the most infamous of which came from a Bitcoin developer. Mike Hearn publicly quit Bitcoin and called it a “failed experiment” in January 2016.

Bitcoin’s year got even worse in May in a way that would drag on for eight years. Infamous LARPer Craig Wright first claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto in 2016, and he garnered an endless amount of press attention.

But before 2017 rolled around, which would be a red-hot year for the entire industry, the mainstream sentiment started to shift. In December, Business Insider wrote a piece titled “Here’s why bitcoin boomed in 2016” and Forbes published an in-depth profile on Genesis Mining CEO Marco Streng.

Bitcoin price moved between a low of $350 to a high of $990 that year.

2020 was a generation-defining year for the entire world, not just Bitcoin. The year of Bitcoin’s third halving coincided with a global pandemic, record-breaking financial market volatility, and extreme economic disruption.

Bitcoin flash-crashed to below $4,000. On the BitMEX markets for Bitcoin, less than $20 million kept the price above $0. Shortly before that galvanizing event, the ever-critical New York Times published a hit piece on Bitcoin titled “Bitcoin Has Lost Steam. But Criminals Still Love It.”

Much of Bitcoin history from 2020 is lost to memory because of the surrounding events that brought the entire world to a halt, but here are a few unforgettable highlights.

  • El Zonte first put Bitcoin on the map in El Salvador.
  • Wall Street legend Bill Miller reveals his Bitcoin bullish bias.
  • MicroStrategy first buys Bitcoin for its corporate treasury.
  • Jack Dorsey’s Square also invested in $50 million of Bitcoin, followed by Tesla in early 2021.
  • Bitcoin price moved between a low of $3800 to a high of $29,000 that year.

And now we find ourselves at the fourth halving. 2024 has already been a history year for Bitcoin. ETFs were approved in the United States and Hong Kong. Bitcoin–for the first time–set a new record-high price before a halving event. Criminals like Do Kwon and Sam Bankman-Fried faced justice. And after multiple years of ridicule and hardship, the majority of mainstream observers seem to believe that Bitcoin’s time has come.

Bitcoin history is important to remember. Bitcoin halvings are welcomed opportunities to review how far this nascent industry has come. But Bitcoin’s best days–and a majority of it’s halvings–are still ahead.

Welcome to the new era of Bitcoin: The fifth halving epoch.

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