Bitcoin Hits New All-Time High: 21 Key Milestones

Bitcoin has a habit of setting new records. Here are 21 milestones from the last 15 years.

Where will this cycle top out?

1) October 31, 2008: Satoshi Nakamoto Releases The Bitcoin White Paper

An anonymous developer publishes a link to the Bitcoin white paper on the Cryptography Mailing List. Few people pay attention, and most of those who do believe the idea will not work. Hal Finney is one of the few people to engage with Satoshi, who continues his work, undeterred.

2) January 3, 2009: The Bitcoin Protocol Launches

Bitcoin goes live. The Genesis Block included a newspaper headline: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks". This not only indicates one of the key purposes of Bitcoin, avoiding the centralized faults of a banking system that was on the point of collapse, but provides proof that Satoshi did not start mining Bitcoin before this date.

3) October 12, 2009: The First OTC Trade

In the first exchange of bitcoins for dollars, Bitcoin developer Martti Malmi traded 5,050 BTC for $5.02 using PayPal: A price of less than one tenth of a cent per bitcoin. Following the trade, OTC deals become more common and the main way in which bitcoin's price was established in the early days.

4) May 22, 2010: Laszlo Buys Pizza

In the first instance of a real-world commercial transaction using bitcoin, developer Laszlo Hanyecz bought two Papa Johns pizzas from another BitcoinTalk forum member for 10,000 BTC (today worth around $700 million). The event has been celebrated as Bitcoin Pizza Day ever since.

5) July 11, 2010: The First Bubble

Bitcoin is mentioned on technology site Slashdot, bringing it to a new audience and helping drive the price up almost 1,000% in less than a week.

6) July 18, 2010: The First True Bitcoin Exchange Launches

Mt Gox, the first real exchange with order books, is launched, enabling more efficient price discovery. Gox would grow to host 90% of global bitcoin trading volumes at its largest and most influential point.

7) February 9, 2011: Bitcoin Hits Dollar Parity

The price of bitcoin on Mt Gox hits $1 for the first time: An impressive milestone after just two years. News outlets start to pay a little more attention, and Bitcoin continues to gain popularity.

8) October 1, 2013: The FBI Takes Down The Silk Road

The FBI track down Ross Ulbricht, aka Dread Pirate Roberts, and take the Silk Road offline. Founded in February 2011, the Silk Road was a darkweb drugs marketplace that used bitcoin for payments. The FBI seized around 30,000 BTC in the sting.

FBI site seizure image
Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

9) November 29, 2013: The 2013 Bubble Peaks

Bitcoin passes $1,200 on Mt Gox, but the euphoria is short-lived. There had long been rumors of problems at the exchange, including price manipulation, hacks, and theft, and it's unclear whether the organization holds all of the customer bitcoins it is supposed to.

10) February 6, 2014: Mt Gox Fails

Gox goes offline. Users have been unable to withdraw fiat funds for some time, and could only take bitcoins off the platform. Now, the site is completely inaccessible. It later turns out that 850,000 BTC have been lost (revised down to 650,000 BTC after 200,000 BTC are "found"). Mt Gox's bankruptcy kicks off a lengthy bear market.

11) August 1, 2017: The Blocksize Wars And Hard Fork

As the number of transactions picks up, Bitcoin's fees increase and many transfers are delayed. One proposed solution is Segregated Witness (SegWit), a scaling solution that will also enable future innovations such as the Lightning Network and microtransactions. Opponents wanted to increase block size, which will introduce greater centralization. A bitter campaign is fought as the differing factions compete to bring about their vision. The blockchain eventually forks into Bitcoin (which gains by far the most hashrate), and Bitcoin Cash, which rapidly becomes nothing more than an altcoin.

12) December 11, 2017: CBOE Launches Bitcoin Futures

CBOE allows traders to speculate on the price of bitcoin using futures, bringing a frenzy of activity to the crypto.

13) December 18, 2017: The 2017 Bubble Peaks

Bitcoin tops out around $19,666, crashing shortly afterwards and beginning another long bear market. It would not hit $20,000 until December 2020.

14) August 11, 2020: Microstrategy Adds Bitcoin As Treasury Asset

Microstrategy uses $250 million to buy 21,453 BTC. Founder Michael Saylor notes that the company's cash reserves are a "melting ice cube", and that no other asset appreciates fast enough to offset inflation. Saylor will continue to buy steadily, accumulating over 190,000 BTC.

There’s Nothing Micro About Microstrategy’s Strategy
It’s easy to see Microstrategy as a simple proxy for bitcoin exposure, but the truth is a little more interesting than that.

15) February 19, 2021: Bitcoin's Market Cap Hits $1 Trillion

Bitcoin's price passes $56,000 for the first time. Given its circulating supply, this gives a total market cap above $1 trillion.

16) October 19, 2021: The First Bitcoin Futures ETF Launches

ProShares' BITO futures ETF is listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, providing exposure to bitcoin for a new tranche of institutional investors and professional traders.

17) November 10, 2021: Bitcoin Hits New All-Time High Of $69,000

Buoyed by the narrative of institutional adoption, bitcoin hits its next all-time high of $69,000. Another lengthy bear market follows the speculative frenzy.

18) November 11, 2022: FTX Collapses

Following weeks of rumors about its solvency, FTX declares bankruptcy. Founder Sam Bankman-Fried is later arrested and convicted on numerous counts of fraud. Around $10 billion in customer funds have been stolen.

Total Shock And Disbelief As SBF Found Guilty On All Charges
The prosecution cast Sam as an evil, manipulative figure, rather than an unlucky genius.

19) January 11, 2024: Spot ETFs Launch

After months of hype, the first spot bitcoin ETFs begin trading in the US. These new ETFs, launched by financial giants including BlackRock and Fidelity, offer retail and institutional investors exposure to bitcoin without needing to worry about custody and security. Demand is fed through to the underlying market, with invested funds used to buy bitcoin. Interest in the new ETFs is intense.

20) March 4, 2024: Bitcoin Overtakes Silver's Market Cap

As Bitcoin hit $68,000 again, it passed the market cap of silver, just under $1.4 trillion. It also passes Meta, at $1.3 trillion.

21) March 5, 2024: Bitcoin Hits New All-Time High

New all-time highs are a regular occurrence for bitcoin, but this one has been different. Powered by the new reality of spot ETFs and widespread adoption, the last ATH has been passed months earlier than in previous cycles, indicating remarkable strength in the market and intense demand.

What Next?

Bitcoin is on the road to surpassing the size of largest companies on the planet. Alphabet (Google) is next in line at $1.7 trillion, with the world's biggest corporation, Microsoft, still some way off at $3 trillion.

Ultimately, Bitcoin may one day be coming for gold's crown, dethroning this $14 trillion asset.

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