The genesis block, also known as Block 0, is basically the very first block in a blockchain.
Each block within the blockchain always has a link to a previous block. After reaching the very beginning of a block which has nothing linked behind it, you arrive at the genesis block.
Satoshi Nakamoto was the person who mined this very first block, containing 50 bitcoins. It took him 6 days to accomplish this feat back in 2009.
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The genesis block and its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, have attracted quite an ardent fanbase. In fact, some Bitcoin fans “donate” Bitcoins to the genesis block until now as a testament of their devotion. Note that once Bitcoins are moved to the genesis block, they can never be moved again.
Let’s take a moment to discuss some of the said mysteries.
The message embedded in the Genesis Block
The raw data of the genesis block revealed some sort of secret message that says:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
The message pertains to The London Times headline, “Chancellor Alistair Darling on brink of second bailout for banks.”
Although Nakamoto did not explain why he chose that message, most Bitcoin fans believe that this was his way of communicating his primary reason for developing Bitcoin: To create a stable, transparent, and incorruptible financial system. The same has become the mission statement of the Bitcoin system.
The first Blockchain transaction was a failure
The 50-bitcoin transaction that took six days to mine out of the genesis block is not even considered a real transaction since it could not be found in the blockchain database. It implies that the first Bitcoin transaction was rejected, making the first Bitcoins untradeable. Was this a mistake on the part of Nakamoto, or did the person who developed Bitcoins do this on purpose? We may never know.
Bitcoin experts and those who studied Nakamoto’s work, however, believe that this was done on purpose, based on the latter’s regard for high-quality output.
Nakamoto has vanished
Perhaps the biggest mystery surrounding the genesis block is the fact that its creator Nakamoto disappeared from the digital planet shortly after releasing the open-source code for blockchain. It left many unanswered questions, including who Nakamoto was. For sure, the name Nakamoto is a pseudonym, but is there only one person behind the development of Bitcoin, or are they a group of people?
The disappearance added to the enigma of Nakamoto such that in November 2013, his followers created the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute (SNI) intending to educate people about the history and mission of the Bitcoin. Even though Nakamoto barely left a trace of his existence when he vanished, SNI was able to collate some evidence of his online presence. Among the documents are Nakamoto’s forum posts while he was still developing the Bitcoin.
The identity of Nakamoto may remain hidden forever, and we may never know if the failure of the very first Bitcoin transaction was done on purpose or by mistake. Still, the legacy of the genesis block remains—a testament that creating a decentralized, incorruptible, stable, and transparent financial system is possible.