Nowadays, almost everything is moving so quickly as the technology around us advances at a rapid pace. One huge disruptive innovation in history is the revolutionized concept of currencies — Bitcoin. Probably at this stage, most likely a number of people have bumped into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency already.
But do you really know who the people behind this revolutionary concept are? Let’s set aside Satoshi Nakamoto from the equation as he is the most significant person behind the creation of Bitcoin and when we talk about Bitcoin, he is the first person to look after to. Let’s talk about Hal Finney in honor of his huge contribution to this innovation.
Harold Thomas Finney II or widely known as Hal Finney was arguably one of the earliest Bitcoin pioneers, having been the second person to receive Bitcoin after Satoshi Nakamoto himself. In fact, Bitcoin stories would not be complete without mentioning Finney and his tremendous contribution towards the development and worldwide recognition and acceptance of the said cryptocurrency.
Yet beyond his role in the history of digital currency, Finney was also a cryptographic master, a veteran of Bitcoin mining, and a voice — sometimes prophetic — within the community at large. By perusing Finney’s post history on the Bitcoin Talk forum, one can see that he foresaw the promise of Bitcoin and its meteoric rise at the end of 2013 while the technology was still in its infancy.
Other than his instant recognition as one of the earliest adopters of Bitcoin, there is far more to the life of Hal Finney, particularly his heroic struggle with his illness. His courage in face of the sickness and maintaining focus on the work in hand is an inspiration for many of us.
To give you a somewhat detailed history of this incredible man, let’s dive deeper into his early life and career until his life with Bitcoin.
Hal Finney was born in Coalinga, California in 1956. He acquired his professional education from the California Institute of Technology and finished his B.S. in Engineering in 1979. A year before he graduated, Finney was hired by ‘APh Technology Consultants’ and was initially assigned to work on their cash register software. He soon developed video games independently as well as a number of other software. He continued working with APh until 1986.
Because of his intuition with encryption, Finney started working jointly with Phil Zimmermann in the development of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy). He remained with PGP until his retirement in 2011.
While at PGP, he continued honing his software encryption skills and experimenting with innovative ideas no matter who initiated them. Since then, he got familiar with Cypherpunks and even developed the first so-called ‘anonymous remailer’ (a cryptographic-based remailer) which he ran for some time. Finney also created reusable proof of work (RPOW) in 2004.
Hal Finney became instantly interested when Satoshi Nakamoto put forward the concept of cryptocurrency in 2008. He became the first person to acquire the first-ever release of cryptocurrency software and also, he became the first recipient of Bitcoins. He then became so engrossed in the development and spread of Bitcoins that many people still believe that it was himself and not Nakamoto who actually was behind it all throughout.
He improved the Bitcoin software significantly and also operated as one of the first miners of the Bitcoins network. Then in 2010, when Bitcoins had already become a buzzword, he developed an “offline” wallet system to store the Bitcoins which was also a huge acclaim instantly.
Finney remained fit physically and healthy even in his fifties yet suddenly he was diagnosed with ALS syndrome (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Despite his deteriorating health condition, he decided to face it all boldly. He continued working ceaselessly, adjusting to his ailment, yet remaining cheerful. His mental faculties were still functioning and so was his ever-inquisitive brain that kept on exploring and experimenting with new ideas. Nothing could hinder his remarkable resilience and a yearning to keep on working on what has been his life’s passion. Right up to his last, he continued programming and writing codes and accomplishing his self-allocated targets.
Hal Finney breathed his last on August 28, 2014. In accordance with his wish & plans, his body has been cryonically frozen and preserved at a special-purpose facility managed by Alcor Life Extension Foundation. This is in keeping with his own futuristic trend and outlook which have been the hallmark of his life-long efforts throughout.
Hal Finney was known for his warm-heartedness and generosity from his colleagues. He is considered as a genius who contributed to cryptocurrency while fighting with a deadly disease. His life and accomplishments shall remain a source of inspiration for the coming generations.