Hello. I am a bitcoin.

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Hello. I am a bitcoin. This is the story of my journey.

I was born on September 17, 2013 at 7:53 am. I came to life in a BTC Guild mining pool, a reward for mining block #258798 in the blockchain. Bitcoin was trading at $126 on my birthday, and 25 of us bitcoins were generated that moment.

In a mining pool, multiple clients contribute computing power to generate a block in a group-copulation sort of way. That meant that ten minutes after birth, all of us were separated and distributed amongst the miners.

I was actually just 0.1 bitcoin. Well really, I’m not a bitcoin, because a bitcoin is not a tangible thing like those Federal Reserve Notes you call money. I’m more like a bank account balance, where each transaction confers the right to transfer that balance to a new receiver. This story is a trace of transactions.

I sat in the miner’s wallet for ten days. On September 29, I was thrown into a mixer for 6 hours.

Bitcoin mixing is the process of combining a user’s funds with that of many others so it becomes impossible to tell where a transaction originated. It looks something like this:

mixing it up
mixing it up

This is money-laundering, of course. But there are plenty of legitimate reasons for seeking anonymity! Many people simply don’t want their spending history on public display*.

Virgin bitcoins like myself are particularly valuable for mixers – virgin meaning fresh from the coinbase, with no transaction history.

How effective is the mixing service? A taint analysis measures the strength of association between different bitcoin addresses. Prior to tumbling, the analysis looked like this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.40.27 PM

After 6 hours of tumbling, it became this:

Screen-Shot-2015-05-12-at-9.44.38-PM

We rinsed and repeated for the next two days, lending my clean name to what were possibly tainted funds.

Finally, I was put up for sale on Mt Gox on October 2, 04:33 am. I was purchased 20 minutes later, and transferred into the Silk Road Marketplace.

Six hours after entering the Marketplace, at 10:12 am, I was seized along with 29,657 of my comrades. Later that day, Ross Ulbricht was arrested at a library in San Francisco.

Silk Road on October 2
Silk Road on October 2

The FBI or whatever transferred us to an address for Silkroad Seized Coins. And there we sat and waited for a really long time. Lots of people sent micropayments to our address, with words of encouragement and spam and phishing attempts attached.

The following June, we were moved to a new location for the US Marshals auction and divided into 3000-BTC blocks.

That was a rough few weeks as I envisioned a future providing liquidity for SecondMarket or some such. The price of bitcoin was over $600 by then; who else would want a $1.8M auction block?

As it turns out, Tim Draper wanted all ten auction blocks. On July 1, we moved to Tim’s account on Vaurum (now called Mirror).

And here I am today. I don’t know what comes next, but I feel in my heart that fate includes a trip to Elaine’s bitcoin wallet. You see, I was always disappointed in the timing of the Silk Road seizure. I had only just arrived in the marketplace! I didn’t even have the opportunity to partake in a trade for cocaine or murder-for-hire or even just some damn porn. But now, maybe I will.

*It is easy to trace bitcoin transactions, but difficult to determine if they actually reflect real-world dealings.
By the way, if you use bitcoin, you should really generate a new address for each transaction. I would know, because I am a bitcoin.

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