Harold Thomas Finney was the first person to run the Bitcoin software, clearly, after its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Hal Finney was part of the group called cypherpunks, the first users with whom Satoshi shared his creation, which is why he is considered a true pioneer and the first bitcoiner. Hal dedicated part of his life to the development of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
Hal was born in California, specifically in Coalinga on May 4, 1956. He graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a degree in Computer Engineering in 1979, where he was noted for his intelligence and insight.
After graduating he started working as a game developer at Astroblast and Space Attack. Subsequently he started a collaboration with Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) which led to his signing some time later.
During his professional career he became part of PGP Corporation, becoming the second member of the developers staff of this project. He was a fundamental part of the 2.0 version of this tool.
Before Bitcoin came to light, Hal was already collaborating with the cryptocurrency. In 1993, this pioneer published research on “Detecting Double Spend” and other research on “Digital Cash and Privacy“.
Later, in 2004, he published an article where he talked about a revision of HashCash called RPOW that ended up being fundamental for the cryptocurrency. Before the launch of Bitcoin, Hal also contributed to some cryptographic mailing lists, not to mention becoming one of the most influential members of the Cypherpunk movement.
Harold showed an interest in cryptography and privacy issues although it was not until the creation of the Cypherpunk mailing list that he began to demonstrate his thoughts on the subject and this field.
Hal Finney made many contributions, but one of the most outstanding was the creation, together with Eric Hughes, of the first anonymous remailer. This is known as the cypherpunk remailer and is referred to as Type I. Clearly, it was the one used for the construction of the group.
As we already know, Finney was the one who supported this cryptocurrency the most from the beginning. Once the Bitcoin whitepaper was published, Finney became a loyal supporter of the project to the point of being the first person to run it after Satoshi.
On January 12, 2009, Hal’s Bitcoin address received 10 BTC sent by Satoshi, which was the first transaction in Bitcoin. In addition, during the first year of the cryptocurrency’s launch, the two exchanged correspondence to clarify and correct errors in the code. Specifically, the error was in version 0.1.0 of the Bitcoin client.
In one of the emails Satoshi wrote: “The next version, which removed the questionable line of code and disabled the optimization, seems to work fine for me. So the problem may be related to that bit.”
Hal wrote a post called “Bitcoin and me” in 2013 via BitcoinTalk where he put “I found Bitcoin fascinating”. No doubt his work on both Cypherpunk and Bitcoin was exceptional. Among other things, Hal talks about his relationship with Satoshi during the development of the first version of Bitcoin:
“When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I took to it immediately. I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run bitcoin. I mined block 70-something, and received the first bitcoin transaction, when Satoshi sent me ten coins as proof. I kept up an email conversation with Satoshi over the next few days, mostly me reporting bugs and him fixing them.”
Although Finney enjoyed potential, this was his last publication, as on October 5, 2009 he published a letter entitled “Dying outside”. In this letter Hal told that he was suffering from the degenerative disease E.L.A. Despite this disease, he did not stop or stop working on Bitcoin programming until his death in 2014 due to this condition.
Hal Finney’s body is cryopreserved at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. A portion of the funding for his cryogenic dormancy was paid for through Bitcoin donations from his fans.
All his thoughts and experiences about Bitcoin were reflected in his publication “Bitcoin and me“. This work will go down in history as the last publication of a Bitcoin pioneer and at the same time as his farewell.