gavin andresen

How Gavin Andresen gave away 19,700 bitcoins in 2010—the Bitcoin faucet turns 12

On June 12, 2010, Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen launched the Bitcoin faucet website. That same year, he gave away 19,700 bitcoins to users who did nothing more than solve a captcha.

If Andresen had held the coins, they’d be worth roughly $500 million today. However, unlike today’s BTC advocates, Andresen interacted directly with Satoshi Nakamoto and was a true believer in his vision for a global peer-to-peer electronic cash system.

Who is Gavin Andresen, and where is he today?

Andresen was one of the earliest Bitcoin developers and advocates. After graduating from Princeton, he worked in 3D graphics and animation before becoming involved with Bitcoin in 2010.

Andresen interacted directly with Satoshi Nakamoto via forum posts and private messages, and when Satoshi disappeared, he left the project in Andresen’s hands.

In 2016, Andresen was contacted by Stefan Matthews, who claimed that Satoshi Nakamoto would like to meet him in the flesh. After interacting with Dr. Craig Wright via email, Andresen flew to London, where he witnessed a now-legendary proof session. In his own words, Dr. Wright signed early blocks of his choosing with Satoshi’s private keys.

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Andresen told the world what he witnessed in a blog post and was immediately kicked off the Bitcoin project. His access to the software repo was revoked, and he was smeared as either a fool or a scammer by the powerful interests who had, by this stage, hijacked the project. 

No doubt scarred by the experience, Andresen has faded from the public eye. These days, he lives a quiet life with his family in Massachusetts.

How the Bitcoin narrative has changed radically

As the comments in the linked Tweet above show, many BTCers wonder how Andresen could possibly cope with giving away so many bitcoins for free. They fail to realize that Bitcoin was very different under Satoishi’s guidance, and it has changed into something unrecognizable.

Back in the early days, Bitcoiners truly believed in the idea of a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that could scale to global dimensions. Satoshi talked about micropayments, and early pioneers dreamed of ways to bank the unbanked, liberate humanity from the shackles of the outdated financial system, and create true peer-to-peer transactions. These days, leading companies like Coinbase (NASDAQ: COINtake massive loans from the likes of Goldman Sachs, and elaborate Ponzi schemes mesmerize newcomers with promises of quick, easy money. It’s a radically different environment.

How could Andresen give away so many bitcoins? It’s simple; back then, the price was the least interesting thing about Bitcoin. Smart developers like Andresen were focused on making it useful as a currency, and so they created tools like the Bitcoin faucet to generate new transactions. The obsessive focus on the fiat price of BTC only started when small blockers like Adam Back began to push the digital gold narrative.

The original Bitcoin dream is alive and well

When walking through uncharted territory, it’s only natural that some fellow travelers might get lost. Humans are free to take different paths, and those advocating for digital gold and a hedge against inflation are free to do so, although they’re probably not free to call their creation Bitcoin.

Thankfully, the original Bitcoin has been restored today as BSV. With millions of daily transactions at fractions of a cent, the system is already capable of handling 100,000 transactions per second and growing. BSV makes true peer-to-peer transactions on a global scale possible. While Andresen has not returned to the fore, many others like him are developing applications that use Bitcoin micropayments.

In time, Gavin Andresen will be vindicated, and those who treated him so poorly will be reviled by history, if they are remembered at all. Until then, the original work continues on Bitcoin SV

As the Bitcoin Faucet turns 12, thank you, Gavin, for creating it and dedicating a part of your life to Bitcoin!

Watch: The BSV Global Blockchain Convention panel, Small Payments, Big Fun: Micropayments for Casual Games

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