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What is the Bitcoin Genesis Block?

The Bitcoin genesis block is the first block of transactions recorded on the Bitcoin blockchain.


Hints behind Satoshi Nakamoto’s purpose

It is currently widely considered Block 0, though some still consider it Block 1. However one labels it, the genesis block is the common ancestor that every single Bitcoin transaction may trace its heritage back to. In turn, unlike every other block on the Bitcoin blockchain, the genesis block does not reference any previous blocks.

Interestingly, the Bitcoin genesis block was mined using a CPU instead of a GPU or specialized ASIC commonly used today.

What does the Bitcoin genesis block look like?

The Bitcoin genesis block may simply look like a series of lines of code, but there is a wealth of crucial information contained within it that is worth dissecting.

Represented in its original form, the Bitcoin genesis block looks like this:

GetHash()      = 0x000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f

hashMerkleRoot = 0x4a5e1e4baab89f3a32518a88c31bc87f618f76673e2cc77ab2127b7afdeda33b

txNew.vin[0].scriptSig     = 486604799 4 0x736B6E616220726F662074756F6C69616220646E6F63657320666F206B6E697262206E6F20726F6C6C65636E61684320393030322F6E614A2F33302073656D695420656854

txNew.vout[0].nValue       = 5000000000

txNew.vout[0].scriptPubKey = 0x5F1DF16B2B704C8A578D0BBAF74D385CDE12C11EE50455F3C438EF4C3FBCF649B6DE611FEAE06279A60939E028A8D65C10B73071A6F16719274855FEB0FD8A6704 OP_CHECKSIG

block.nVersion = 1

block.nTime    = 1231006505

block.nBits    = 0x1d00ffff

block.nNonce   = 2083236893


CBlock(hash=000000000019d6, ver=1, hashPrevBlock=00000000000000, hashMerkleRoot=4a5e1e, nTime=1231006505, nBits=1d00ffff, nNonce=2083236893, vtx=1)

  CTransaction(hash=4a5e1e, ver=1, vin.size=1, vout.size=1, nLockTime=0)

    CTxIn(COutPoint(000000, -1), coinbase 04ffff001d0104455468652054696d65732030332f4a616e2f32303039204368616e63656c6c6f72206f6e206272696e6b206f66207365636f6e64206261696c6f757420666f722062616e6b73)

    CTxOut(nValue=50.00000000, scriptPubKey=0x5F1DF16B2B704C8A578D0B)

  vMerkleTree: 4a5e1e


If we break it down, there are many interesting pieces of information contained within the text above.

For starters, the hash of the Bitcoin genesis block is 000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f — which has two more hex zeros at the start than needed.

Perhaps most famously, the Bitcoin genesis block’s coinbase parameter contains the following text — which was copied from a London Times headline and is now well-known to crypto-proponents everywhere:

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

This line most obviously references the instability of the fractional-reserve banking system following the then-recent 2008 economic crisis. Many have interpreted this to signal the purpose of Bitcoin — namely, as a means of opting out of the fiat-banking system that sees banks bailed out at the taxpayers’ expense.

However, this message also serves as a timestamp of sorts. It also suggests that Satoshi Nakamoto may have resided in the United Kingdom, given the reference to a U.K. newspaper.

Finally, the raw hex version of Bitcoin’s genesis block is commonly used as artwork and in marketing materials, and looks as such:

00000000   01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00   …………….

00000010   00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00   …………….

00000020   00 00 00 00 3B A3 ED FD  7A 7B 12 B2 7A C7 2C 3E   ….;£íýz{.²zÇ,>

00000030   67 76 8F 61 7F C8 1B C3  88 8A 51 32 3A 9F B8 AA   gv.a.È.ÈŠQ2:Ÿ¸ª

00000040   4B 1E 5E 4A 29 AB 5F 49  FF FF 00 1D 1D AC 2B 7C   K.^J)«_Iÿÿ…¬+|

00000050   01 01 00 00 00 01 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00   …………….

00000060   00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00  00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00   …………….

00000070   00 00 00 00 00 00 FF FF  FF FF 4D 04 FF FF 00 1D   ……ÿÿÿÿM.ÿÿ..

00000080   01 04 45 54 68 65 20 54  69 6D 65 73 20 30 33 2F   ..EThe Times 03/

00000090   4A 61 6E 2F 32 30 30 39  20 43 68 61 6E 63 65 6C   Jan/2009 Chancel

000000A0   6C 6F 72 20 6F 6E 20 62  72 69 6E 6B 20 6F 66 20   lor on brink of

000000B0   73 65 63 6F 6E 64 20 62  61 69 6C 6F 75 74 20 66   second bailout f

000000C0   6F 72 20 62 61 6E 6B 73  FF FF FF FF 01 00 F2 05   or banksÿÿÿÿ..ò.

000000D0   2A 01 00 00 00 43 41 04  67 8A FD B0 FE 55 48 27   *….CA.gŠý°þUH’

000000E0   19 67 F1 A6 71 30 B7 10  5C D6 A8 28 E0 39 09 A6   .gñ¦q0·.\Ö¨(à9.¦

000000F0   79 62 E0 EA 1F 61 DE B6  49 F6 BC 3F 4C EF 38 C4   ybàê.aÞ¶Iö¼?Lï8Ä

00000100   F3 55 04 E5 1E C1 12 DE  5C 38 4D F7 BA 0B 8D 57   óU.å.Á.Þ\8M÷º..W

00000110   8A 4C 70 2B 6B F1 1D 5F  AC 00 00 00 00            ŠLp+kñ._¬….

Who received the first 50 BTC?

Though we don’t know who exactly owns the address, we do know that the first 50 BTC went to address 1A1zP1eP5QGefi2DMPTfTL5SLmv7DivfNa.

What is particularly interesting about this address is the fact that it may not be spent. In layman’s terms, this is due to an oddity in the genesis block’s code — though whether or not this quirk was intentional or unintentional is up for debate.

Whether Satoshi Nakamoto or another individual has the private keys for this Bitcoin address remains unknown. However, if someone were able to sign a message using the genesis block’s private keys, they would be able to lay claim to the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.

Why did the Bitcoin genesis block take so long?

Another oddity about the Bitcoin genesis block is that it took six days for the second block to be time-stamped — a significant discrepancy from the network’s average block time of 10 minutes.

While we don’t know exactly why this was the case, some speculate that Satoshi Nakamoto mined Bitcoin’s genesis block with an older timestamp in order to match the headline from The Times, which he included in the coinbase parameter. Others have put forth the possibility that the genesis block was mined on January 3, but all following blocks were deleted prior to the launch of the mainnet on January 9 — at which point Satoshi Nakamoto simply reused the block.


The Bitcoin genesis block remains the foundational block of the entire blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. It contains hints as to the purpose of Bitcoin’s creation, as well as a peak into the mind of its creator.

Today, some individuals still send transactions to the Bitcoin genesis block — some as a way of paying tribute.

Whether or not Satoshi Nakamoto still exists is a matter of debate. However, it is a near certainty that his definitive reappearance in verified connection to the Bitcoin genesis block would wreak havoc on the entire cryptocurrency market — since he or she would control some one million BTC.

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