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The cypherpunk was one of the first people to mine Bitcoin blocks, aside from Satoshi Nakamoto, and he recorded several of the early glitches.
More than ten years have passed after computer scientist Hal Finney received the first transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain, and his influence on crypto as a system is still feeling today.
Finney was one of the first people to respond to Satoshi Nakamoto’s post on the cypherpunks mailing list, and others in the room still believe he is one of the pseudonymous persons responsible for the development of Bitcoin (BTC).
The legendary Bitcoin pioneer would have turned 65 today if he hadn’t died in 2014 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS.
Prior to his passing, Finney discussed his early encounters of cryptocurrencies on the Bitcointalk forums. In 2009, he defined mining some blocks on the BTC network as a relatively easy method that could be done using a CPU rather than a GPU.
“When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I grabbed it right away,” he said. “I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run Bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and I was the recipient of the first Bitcoin transaction, when Satoshi sent ten coins to me as a test. I carried on an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly me reporting bugs and him fixing them.”
Finney was a well-known cryptographer who worked for the PGP Corporation, which was later absorbed by Symantec, developing applications that enabled users to encrypt emails and files. About the fact that one of his last tweets said that he was “essentially paralysed,” Finney used an eyetracker device to write code aimed at improving the security of crypto wallets.
Finney is survived by his two children and wife Fran, who today posted a photo of the Bitcoin pioneer running through a neighborhood in the 1980s, an image retweeted by cryptographer Adam Back. Before his diagnosis, Finney was training to run a full marathon.
Photo of Hal running, 1980’s, demonstrating his characteristic enthusiasm and lust for life. pic.twitter.com/GV20bn5e8F
— Fran Finney (@franfinney) May 4, 2021
Finney and his wife Fran worked to raise ALS awareness and funds prior to his death. Fran Finney has carried on her husband’s legacy by collaborating with the Golden West branch of the ALS Association.