By Carl Kruse
It’s May 22, Bitcoin Pizza Day, celebrated by bitcoiners and friends everywhere. What’s this? Back in May 22, 2010, software engineer Laszlo Hanyecz bought two pizzas with 10,000 bitcoins, marking the first commercial transaction ever with bitcoin. Even though bitcoin traded for about $0.003 per bitcoin at the time – therefore having some value – it was a first that someone accepted bitcoin for a commercial good.
Why celebrate this? Because of the meaning of money and value and its relationship to bitcoin (and to us). But more on that later.
A decade after that first transaction, those pizza bitcoins are worth $100 million and Hanyecz didn’t just buy two pizzas. That year he estimates spending more than 100,000 bitcoins on more pizza. That’s about $1 billion if he had held on to his bitcoins.
Worst transaction in history? Hanyecz told the New York Times he had no regrets because at the time bitcoin had no value but pizza did, so it was a no-brainer. As a programmer Hanyecz says he had poured plenty of time and energy down the drain of open-source projects. This time, at least he was getting dinner. At times I wonder how Hanyecz really feels, say on a dark night when one drifts in bed and ruminates about life. Even back then, some bitcoiners thought Hanyecz overpaid for the pizzas as his 10,000 bitcoins were worth about $41, more than the fair value of the pizzas.
Beyond the famous transaction, Hanyecz made valuable contributions to the Bitcoin space, including the first release of Bitcoin Core for MacOS and perhaps most importantly the development of GPU mining, which significantly increased the hashpower of the network at the time.
Anyway, one of the defining qualities of money is it serve as a medium of exchange. Another is that it be a unit of account. And on May 22, 2010 bitcoin’s moneyness came fully to life with Hanyecz’s pizza transaction. This is perhaps what is most memorable about the pizzas.
As to yet another quality of money – being a store of value – bitcoin went from $0.003 in May 22, 2010 to $9,040 today. That gain of 3,013,332 % makes it easily the best performing asset of the decade. Talk about store of value. Yet it still gets little respect in many parts of society. Poor bitcoin.
I wonder what’s in store for bitcoin come 2030? Happy Bitcoin Pizza Day.
Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT com
Check out my other bitcoin article “What to buy? Buy bitcoin?“
Bitcoin Magazine has a great interview with Laszlo Hanyecz here.