DEFINITION of 'Genesis Block'

The Genesis Block is the first-ever block of Bitcoin mined by creator Satoshi Nakamoto. The original block has 50 bitcoins in it and was mined over the course of six days in 2009. The 50 bitcoins within the block are unspendable, however, and it's a subject of much debate whether this was intentional or a fluke on Nakamoto's part. Also known as Block 0.

BREAKING DOWN 'Genesis Block'

When Satoshi Nakamoto began mining the Genesis Block on January 3rd, 2009, it's possible that he (or she or a group of people) had any clue about the chain of events it would set off. 

The Genesis Block, also known as Block 0, is the ancestor that every other block in the chain can trace its lineage back to. It was mined over the course of six days by Nakamoto, which is puzzling to Bitcoin fans, as the average timestamp gap between mining blocks is normally just ten minutes. So why did this first block take so long? The most logical explanation is that Nakamoto was testing his creation to make sure the original block was perfect. It had to be, since it would be hardwired into the system forever. 

The Genesis Block's Secret Message

Perhaps the most mystifying aspect of the Genesis Block is the secret message that Nakamoto imbued within the Block's raw data. 

"The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks"

While Nakamoto never commented on  the meaning of his message, it's not hard to infer that it serves as a mission statement for Bitcoin itself. The text comes from a headline in the January 3rd, 2009 edition of The Times, a London-based newspaper. The article reported on the British government's failing to stimulate the economy following the 2008 financial crisis. 

Nakamoto famously hated the idea of too-big-to-fail institutions and intended Bitcoin to be different. Bitcoin couldn't be bailed out because there was no corporation or middleman between the currency and the consumer. Looking at all of this, it seems pretty likely that Nakamoto's reference to the article was a hint as to why he chose that moment for Bitcoin to be born. 

Interestingly, the 50 bitcoin reward contained within the Genesis Block is unable to be spent due to a minor change in the code. It's unknown whether this was intentional or unintentional on Nakamoto's part. People have been donating small amounts of Bitcoin in tribute to Nakamoto by transferring funds to this original block. This is seen as a kind of sacrifice, since once a coin is moved into the Genesis Block, it cannot be moved, sort of like throwing a quarter into a fountain.

The Genesis Block is the backbone of the entire bitcoin system, and the origin of Bitcoin itself. If every transaction with Bitcoin were like a fork in the road, then all those roads would eventually lead back to the Genesis Block. 

 

 

RELATED TERMS
  1. Block (Bitcoin Block)

    Blocks are files where data pertaining to the Bitcoin network ...
  2. Bitcoin Unlimited

    A proposed upgrade to Bitcoin Core that allows larger block sizes.
  3. Block Height

    Block Height indicates the overall length of a blockchain.
  4. Bitcoin Mining

    Bitcoin mining is the process by which transactions are verified ...
  5. Block Explorer

    A block explorer is a website that allows users a real-time, ...
  6. Bitcoin Cash

    Bitcoin cash is a cryptocurrency created in August 2017, arising ...
Related Articles
  1. Tech

    Bitcoin vs. Bitcoin Cash: What's the Difference?

    We break down the difference between bitcoin and bitcoin cash, and what it might mean for the future of cryptocurrencies.
  2. Tech

    What's Bitcoin Cash And Where the Heck Did It Come From?

    Here's a look at Bitcoin Cash and how its arrival has impacted the market dynamics.
  3. Tech

    Is Craig Wright the Inventor of Bitcoin?

    As of Monday morning, however, bitcoin's biggest mystery may have been solved: Craig Stevenson Wright, an Australian computer scientist, has offered what he says is proof that he is the cryptocurrency's ...
  4. Tech

    Bitcoin Market Cap Exceeds $13 Billion, Price Passes $800

    Thank India's demonetization, Chinese capital flight, and Trump.
  5. Tech

    How Bitcoin Can Change The World

    Bitcoin has the potential to not only create savings for consumer, but also to transform global transactions.
  6. Tech

    Is Bitcoin Cash About to Fork Again? Is It in Trouble?

    An update was announced in November and is set to take place in May.
  7. Tech

    Bitcoin Price Holds Steady But Future Spike May Be In The Cards

    Bitcoin's price remained steady even as bitcoin cash gained more than 11% in the last 24 hours.
  8. Tech

    Bitcoin Crosses $1,000 Mark for the First Time in 3 Years

    Bitcoin climbed 125% in 2016, outperforming all other central bank-issued currencies.
  9. Tech

    The Three Major Bitcoin Protocols Explained

    OK so why are there multiple kinds of Bitcoin now?
  10. Tech

    Bitcoin.com Co-founder Dumps Bitcoin For Bitcoin Cash

    Bitcoin is the "riskiest investment" you can make, said Emil Oldenburg, co-founder of Bitcoin.com.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What Does the Bitcoin Blockchain Record?

    Read about the bitcoin blockchain, a public ledger shared among all bitcoin users that records the information of every single ... Read Answer >>
  2. Is Bitcoin legal in the US?

    Learn about the legality of Bitcoin as a form of payment in the United States, as well as how it is produced and concerns ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center