The cypherpunk was one of the first people to mine Bitcoin blocks, aside from Satoshi Nakamoto, and he recorded several of the early bugs.
More than ten years have passed after computer scientist Hal Finney received the first transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain, and his effect on cryptocurrency as a technology can still be felt today.
Finney was one of the first people to respond to Satoshi Nakamoto’s post on the cypherpunks mailing list, and some in the space still believe he is one of the pseudonymous individuals 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 with cryptocurrencies on the Bitcointalk forums. In 2009, he defined mining many blocks on the BTC network as a relatively simple process that could be completed 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 acquired by Symantec, developing software that enabled users to encrypt emails and files. Despite the fact that one of his last messages said that he was “essentially paralyzed,” 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 shared a picture of the Bitcoin founder running through a street in the 1980s, which cryptographer Adam Back retweeted. Finney was preparing to run a full marathon before his diagnosis.
Prior to his death, Finney and his wife Fran worked to raise awareness and fundraising for ALS. Since his departure, Fran Finney has continued her husband’s legacy, working together with the Golden West chapter of the ALS Association.