Why did a Bitcoin miner not mind paying 10,000 BTC for a couple of pizzas?
Bitcoin encourages savings, the safekeeping of your money safely and without depreciating over time. At least that’s one of the prevailing narratives in the ecosystem.
Although the “HODL” meme has become popular inviting holders not to sell their bitcoins even if the price drops, it really the first use case of Bitcoin was transactional.
The first commercial exchange with this cryptocurrency was that of 2 pizzas in exchange for 10,000 bitcoins (BTC), paid by the programmer Laszlo Hanyecz on May 22, 2010, and which today are equivalent to about 300 million dollars.
Hanyecz was also one of the first miners of the Bitcoin network, which allowed him to accumulate staggering amounts of BTC on a daily basis. However, the abundance of bitcoins was not what prompted Hanyecz to want to spend them.
What really motivated Laszlo to make this offer of 10,000 BTC for some pizzas was the desire to boost Bitcoin as a medium of exchange.
Back then, Bitcoin operated on the same monetary fundamentals that made it a counter answer to the fiat economy. However, the few users of the time were just learning about it and did not see this protocol more than as a curious software with which to play.
In fact, in 2018, Laszlo once again boosted the transactional use of Bitcoin by buying 2 pizzas again, but this time through Lightning, which was reported by Criptonews.
“The goal was to play with the c-lightning client and do more than just exchange satoshis. Perhaps, pizzerias will have their own Lightning nodes with which channels can be opened directly,” he said on the Bitcoin developers mailing list.
Laszlo Hanyecz: making pizza with the Bitcoin code
Laszlo was also a Bitcoin miner and by 2010 the network was so easy to mine that could be done with a CPU or desktop computer, and doing better every day was something that aroused the curiosity and ingenuity of this and other programmers.
So much so, that Laszlo had the merit of being the first to implement graphics processing cards or GPUs for mining, because these equipment possess more power to exercise the Proof of Work (Proof of Work). A short time later, these computers became obsolete and Bitcoin began to use ASICs, highly specialized and energy-intensive hardware.
“The pizza thing became more popular than I expected, so then I bought as many pizzas as I could. Except for a few other transactions, I spent everything I had mined. As everyone well knows, the difficulty increases to adjust to the hashing power, so eventually mining was no longer worth it for me.
As far as I know, I was the first to launch a GPU miner. I contributed the hash power by that time […]. I used to be the main maintainer of the Mac OS software for mining Bitcoin, but others are attending to that right now […] That was in May 2010. Maybe there were other people mining privately, I think. […]. The way I see it, I was helping to develop an open source project, and I was making pizza with my code.”
Laszlo Hanyecz, programmer.
Two pizzas, the foundation stone of the bitcoiner economy
While the first Bitcoin miners managed to accumulate thousands of Bitcoin with their CPU until the difficulty left their equipment obsolete, today there is a giant industry around this activity.
Miners no longer depend on the accumulated bitcoins to sustain their operations, but do business with loans, energy suppliers and outsource their services to other customers.
What started from the comfort of the home of those who used Bitcoin in its early years, now it has large industrial structures, and companies listed on the stock exchange.
However, the spirit of encouraging individual responsibility remains, as many miners have managed to adapt Bitcoin mining to their homes, again.
On the other hand, what Laszlo may have dreamed of at the time, today has become a reality: Bitcoin is a global payment network, and that billions of people in the world have heard about, even if they don’t use it.
Bitcoin has become a powerful financial tool for financially isolated countries, so that its citizens can make transactions without restrictions and without censorship. It has become legal tender in El Salvador, as well as an asset whose circulation is allowed in other countries.
In addition, it has become an asset of interest for large entities specializing in investment, as well as a practical way for individuals who just want to buy a pizza, like Laszlo 12 years ago.