History of Digital Assets 

Digital assets have had a short but unique and innovative history. From the first creation of the first anonymous online communication to the first transfer of value, Cryptography has a complex history.

What Was The First Digital Asset Before Bitcoin? 

Cryptocurrencies first became a thing starting in the late 1980s, right when computers were just gaining popularity. To understand how blockchain came around, we first look at the beginning of anonymous value transfer, group communication, data storage and the early internet in general.

Cryptocurrency, Pre-Bitcoin

Many cryptos were around before Bitcoin and many are even credited with assisting in the creation of Bitcoin. BitGold, B-Money and HashCash were only a few of the projects that impacted the invention of Bitcoin, introducing the ideas of POW, decentralization and anonymous value transfer to the ecosystem.

1975 – Microsoft is formed by Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

1988 Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is founded by Jarkko Oikarinen is a chat-based communication capable of group communication, data transfers and file sharing.

1989DigiCash is founded by David Chaum. Introduced an early component to public and private keys, which was fully anonymous.

1994Netscape Communication corporation is launched by Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen.

1994 – Yahoo gets bigger, was owned by parent company Apolla Global and founded by Jerry Yang and David Filo.

1995 – Ebay is founded by Pierre Omidyar.

1996E-Gold, founded by Dr. Douglas Jackson & Barry K Downey as literal digital gold. Unable to keep out illegal activity and were shut down by the US government.

1997HashCash was founded by Adam Back who later founds Blockstream in 2014. Hashcash is the Proof of Work system used in Bitcoin.

1998PayPal is launched by Musk and 13 others, including Peter Thiel, Keith Rabois, David Sacks, Jeremy Stoppleman, Reid Hoffman, Jared Karim, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and more.

1998 – Nick Szabo launches BitGold which was one of the earliest attempts at a decentralized digital currency, very similar to BTC except risked double-spending.

1998 – Wei Dai launches B-Money – an anonymous distributed cash system with many of the same values seen in today’s cryptocurrencies.

1998 – Google is founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page. 

1999 – Napster goes live by Shawn Parker and Sean Fanning, P2P audio file sharing .

2000FreeNet by Ian Clarke offering censorship-resistant and anonymous communication.

2000Gnutella is founded by Justin Frankel, Gen Kan and Neil Mollard as the first decentralized peer to peer network. Nullsoft (creators of MP3 & WinAMP founded by Justin Frankel) and AOL were both involved.

2001Bittorent is founded by Bram Cohen as a peer-to-peer communication file-sharing system.

2003 – MySpace by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe.

2004 – Facebook launched by Mark Zuckerberg.

2005 – Youtube is founded by Jared Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley.


October 28th, 2008Bitcoin is released by Satoshi, and code is worked on by… Gavin Andresen, Peter Todd, David Schwartz. Satoshi communicated with the community until April 26th, 2011, when he suddenly went quiet. 

January 12th, 2009 – The first Bitcoin transaction is recorded, from Satoshi Nakomoto to Hal Finney

2009 – a16z, or Andreessen Horowitz, is founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz.

2010Jed McCaleb founds Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange. In 2014 Mt Gox conspicuously closed its doors for good, at a time it was responsible for facilitating nearly 70% of bitcoin transactions.

2011Ripple (XRP) is founded by Arthur Britto, Jed McCaleb, and David Schwartz as a global, cross-border settlement solution. 

2011Silk Road launches as an anonymous marketplace. Silk road was responsible for illegal transactions and got shut down several years later.

2012 – Brian Armstrong founds Coinbase.

2014Gavin Wood publishes the Ethereum Virtual Machine, the system that would allow smart contracts to operate. 

2014 – Quantum, by digital artists Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash, became the first NFT ever minted.

2015 – Digital Currency Group is formed, who is relevant today with over $50B AUM.

2015Ethereum is founded by Vitalik Buterin, Mihai Alisie, Anthony Di Lorio, Charles Hoskins, Amir Chetrit, Gavin Wood, Joseph Lubin and Jeffrey Wilcke. Vitalik Buterin was awarded $100k by the Peter Thiel Foundation to start working on Ethereum initially to build his layer one solution. 

2015 – Etheria becomes the first NFT-based game.

2017 – Sergey Nazarov launches ChainLink, a data oracle necessary to keep blockchains decentralized.

2017 – Cryptokitties launches by Dapper labs and is the first major success for an NFT game. The virtual pet-based game, crashed the entire Ethereum network when it launched due to such heavy traffic.

2017 – Axie Infinity is founded and launches one year later.

For media, content or writing inquiries please contact Patrick Hagerty at PatrickJHags@gmail.com

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