The History of Cryptocurrency: 4 Bitcoin Firsts

Bitcoin Jun 26, 2020

Bitcoin is the world's leading cryptocurrency and a revolutionary step forward in how the world's economy works. For this reason, the very existence of digital currencies is also a major development in the history of money. Unsurprisingly given its name, this monetary innovation has existed entirely within the Information Age: it's a direct and inseparable result of the internet. Nearly every "first" has been posted about, discussed, or otherwise recorded, so the rich decade or so of Bitcoin history and the world of crypto has been chronicled with a level of detail that few—if any—other financial instruments can share. So if you ever wondered what pizza and Bitcoin have in common or where the first Bitcoin ATM was located, we're here to fill you in on four breakthroughs that have led to the global crypto economy we know today.

March 17, 2010: the first Bitcoin exchange

Following Satoshi Nakamoto's release of Bitcoin into the world in early 2009, things remained fairly quiet for the next year or so. There was a core group of early adopters whose numbers were steadily growing, so finding a willing counterparty on a Bitcoin-related forum and conducting a peer-to-peer trade wasn't too difficult. The problem, however, that it was hard to agree on how much a bitcoin was worth—there wasn't one place, like a stock market, where everyone could see how much everyone else was paying for their crypto, so users couldn't tell if the prices they were seeing were fair. Forum user dwdollar solved this problem in early 2010 by creating Bitcoinmarket.com, where users could trade their dollars for bitcoins at a known exchange rate.

Bitcoinmarket.com was not long lived, and today many sites offer the ability to buy crypto, exchange crypto, and check on crypto exchange rates while taking advantage of features like increased regulation and security, low transaction fees, and varied payment methods. Coinmap's sister site, Invity.io, brings together the best crypto exchanges from across the web, carefully vets them for trustworthiness, and incorporates them into a crypto comparison tool. This allows you to get the best bitcoin exchange rates or to buy crypto with bank transfers, or any number of other benefits.

May 22, 2010: the first Bitcoin purchase

The crypto ecosystem of 2010 also saw the first use of Bitcoin as a medium of exchange—in other words, the first time someone in need of goods or services in the "real world" made a purchase with Bitcoin. Until this point, Bitcoin had been solely a means of speculation between users—people couldn't really "do" anything with it. But Laszlo Hanyecz decided to change that one evening when he and his daughter were hungry. He found someone willing to order two large pizzas for delivery in exchange for BTC 10,000. Keep in mind that while a single bitcoin is worth just over USD 9,000 today, back then each one was worth just under half a cent! While this transaction may be something between a joke and a subject of disbelief today, this step proved that it's possible to use digital currency as we use a fiat currency, and now countless merchants accept Bitcoin and altcoins without a second thought. Bitcoin Pizza Day has even become an annual holiday in the crypto space!

The (in)famous Bitcoin Pizzas bought for BTC 10,000.
The (in)famous Bitcoin Pizzas bought for BTC 10,000 by Laszlo Hanyecz.

November 15, 2012: the first major website to accept crypto

After the bitcoin-for-pizza trade, cryptocurrencies began to gain steam as a way to actually make purchases. Soon, everyone from chiropractors to strippers were accepting bitcoins for their work, including a number of niche internet services. But even as the cyber economy was beginning to boom, Bitcoin wouldn't be able to come into wide acceptance until a major business accepted cryptocurrency as a payment option. This finally came to pass when Wordpress, a website creation and blogging platform, added Bitcoin. Explaining that this decision was a way for people who had been closed out of traditional payment methods due to sanctions or other regulations to take advantage of the freedom of speech a blog provides, this move was not only a victory for Bitcoin as a useful tool for buying and selling but also a victory for the crypto community's vision of a globally interconnected economy free from unnecessary institutional control.

Today, websites that accept Bitcoin and altcoins as payment options include Microsoft, Wikipedia, and travel agents, along with plenty of brick-and-mortar locations too.

October 29, 2013: the first Bitcoin ATM

The world's first Bitcoin ATM in use at Waves Coffee House.
The world's first Bitcoin ATM in use at Waves Coffee House by Mashable.

Perhaps the most visible feature of the virtual currency born on the internet isn't online at all: nowadays, brightly colored Bitcoin ATMs seem as commonplace as the kiosks that most of us use for our traditional bank accounts. But these had to begin somewhere, and that place was the Waves Coffee House in Vancouver, Canada. And really it was no surprise that this hip location agreed to be the first node in a worldwide network: it's a café committed to connecting its patrons through food as well as cutting-edge technology located in a city that just missed our list of the world's best crypto cities. Before long, physical locations to trade your fiat to BTC were popping up everywhere; today they can be found in just about every country, and you only need to use our Bitcoin ATM finder to locate the one nearest you!

There are plenty more excellent stories from the history of crypto, and there's undoubtedly untold chapters still to be written—buy crypto today to become part of the world of crypto, and perhaps you too can play a part in the next one!


Coinmap gives you the best places in the world to spend cryptocurrencies. But before you spend crypto, you have to get some: our companion project Invity.io gives you the best all-in-one place to buy, exchange, and save digital currencies.

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