Recently, I came across what looked to me like a block address for Bitcoin and after digging around I found a pretty cool tidbit about Bitcoin as well as learned something new. So what is this address?
It’s called a Genesis Block. A genesis block is the first block of a blockchain. These are significant because each block that is built onto the blockchain is based on the hash of the previous block. A hash is a cryptographic signature of a given string of data. Therefore, a genesis block is always hardcoded into the application which runs the given blockchain. If you’re curious you can view the genesis block here: Genesis Creation in Source Code
Each block on a blockchain also contains data. The amount of data which can fit in a block is determined by the block size. Currently, Bitcoin uses 1-megabyte blocks, although currently there is a large debate if this size should be increased. Like humans Bitcoin also has a heartbeat, except Bitcoin’s heart only beats every 10 minutes and with each beat, blocks are generated and added to the blockchain. Inside those blocks, for Bitcoin, there is a ledger of the transactions which need to be stored and verified among the many nodes.
The Bitcoin genesis block contains data too! For this article, we’ll talk about the coinbase. A coinbase is a input parameter for coinbase transactions. This parameter gives miners the ability to claim the reward for creating the block as well as a small space to fit arbitrary data. This is where my journey got interesting.
Bitcoin’s coinbase parameter for its genesis block is:
Once you decode the hexidecimal to text you see the original parameter used:
I think that’s pretty awesome. The fact that the new standard in global currency was started with the notion that it would change the banking industry as the banks were getting bailed out is amazing. Bitcoin is here to stay. Distribute applications are here to stay. I feel we are in the midst of a huge leap for technology and the world. Jump on the train because according to the genesis block the train left in 2009.