It has been over ten years since computer scientist Hal Finney became the recipient of the first transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain, and its impact on crypto as a technology is still being felt today.
Finney was one of the first people to respond to Satoshi Nakamoto’s post on the cypherpunks mailing list, with some in the space still believing he was one of the pseudonyms behind the creation of Bitcoin (BTC ).
The legendary Bitcoin pioneer would have turned 65 today had he not died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS – in 2014.
Before his death, Finney posted on the Bitcointalk forums his early experiences with cryptocurrency. He described mining multiple blocks on the BTC network as a relatively straightforward process in 2009, capable of being completed with a CPU rather than a GPU.
“When Satoshi announced the first version of the software, I grabbed it right away,” he said. “I think I was the first person outside of Satoshi to run Bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and was the recipient of the first Bitcoin transaction, when Satoshi sent me ten coins as a test. I had an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly reporting bugs and fixing them. “
Finney was a well-known cryptographer who worked for PGP Corporation – later acquired by Symantec – in developing software that allowed users to encrypt emails and files. Even though one of his last posts said he was “essentially paralyzed,” Finney used an eye-tracking system to write code aimed at strengthening security around crypto wallets.
Finney is survived by his two children and his wife Fran, who today posted a photo of the Bitcoin pioneer walking through a neighborhood in the 1980s, an image retweeted by cryptographer Adam Back. Prior to his diagnosis, Finney was training to run a full marathon.
Photo of Hal running, 1980s, showing his characteristic enthusiasm and thirst for life. pic.twitter.com/GV20bn5e8F
– Fran Finney (@franfinney) May 4, 2021
Prior to his death, Finney and his wife Fran worked to raise awareness and raise funds for ALS. Since leaving, Fran Finney has carried on her husband’s legacy, working with the Golden West chapter of the ALS Association.