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Humble Bitcoin Beginnings

I have a vague memory of learning about bitcoin. Of course, at the moment I discovered bitcoin's existence, I did not know how central a role it would play in my life. I heard it was being used to order drugs on the Silk Road to dorms at MIT. I thought that was absolutely awesome, and soon I bought some bitcoins on Coinbase and used them to order a fake ID.1 The coolest part of buying contraband online was the currency that enabled the process. I had always raised an eyebrow at the In God We Trust money system, and this bitcoin thing appeared to have answers to some of my long standing questions. But it seemed just about no one else at MIT gave two shits about bitcoin.

How could this be? Really, I could not find anyone interested in a piece of code that leveraged number and game theory to make people fortunes? Was there another global social economic project consuming an exponentially increasing amount of energy? Was the story of the secret author Satoshi Nakamoto, the Mtgox collapse, and the arrest of Ross Ulbricht not enticing enough? Seriously, what the fuck?

I looked around and found a bitcoin group that met once a week. I attended a few sessions, but the conversation was dull. There was a lot of the, "we don't want to sound like crazy libertarians." and "we're interested in the technology but not the politics." As if there were such a thing as apolitical technology.

I also attended a small presentation at MIT by Gavin Andresen. I had a weak understanding of how the protocol worked, and at the time found his talk informative. But there was one awful habit he had where he would finish explanations with gesticulations while saying "and with some hand-wave hand-wave we get it to work."2

I went to a couple of MIT's annual Bitcoin Expositions. During my attendance I met some of the power ranger cast: Gavin Andresen,3 Andreas Antonopoulos4, James D'angelo,5 Charlie Lee,6 and Peter Todd.7 Fwiw, I found Mr. Todd reasonable. He gave a talk on why Simplified Payment Verification "SPV" wallets are junk.

I also signed up for and then later dropped a class at MIT called "Blockchain Technologies: Decentralize all the Things." As written in my first ever qntra article: If the name didn't give away the cognitively handicapped nature of the material, then the syllabus (archived) should. So yeah, there was not much to see at MIT with regards to bitcoin. Doesn't look like things have changed, either.8

  1. I was 19 at the time, usaschawitz has a 21-year-old age requirement for buying alcohol. []
  2. With some hand-wave hand-wave we make 8GB blocks work. Or with some hand-wave hand-wave we make bitcoin-without-signatures work. Why not? []
  3. Ex head power ranger. []
  4. Popular alctoin shill. []
  5. Charismatic guy who made a Bitcoin 101 series on youtube. []
  6. The Litecoin scammer who worked at Coinbase. []
  7. Power ranger with occasional moments of clarity. []
  8. The mission statement on

    The MIT Bitcoin Club is one of the first blockchain clubs in the world that continuously strives to educate members on the foundation and the latest innovation in blockchain technology. In doing so, we nurture a community of leaders that are passionate about the technology and want to contribute to the atmosphere of students leaders that aim to be at the forefront of the blockchain space. []

2 Responses to “Humble Bitcoin Beginnings”

  1. Diana Coman says:

    Ahahaha, this was fun to read. Fwiw "Decentralize all the Things" + footnote 8 + hand-wave hand-wave talk style fits perfectly (but perfectly!) all the usual party propaganda meetings and talks that I ever saw or even read about.

  2. whaack says:

    I'm glad you liked it. There's more gold - like the time Gavin said with a straight face that "no one is against bigger blocks" at some "Digital Currency Initiative" meeting.

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