How Bitcoin 2021 Redefined In-Person Celebration

This article first appeared in Bitcoin Magazine‘s El Salvador print edition. To get this piece of Bitcoin history sent directly to you, subscribe now.

There’s nothing inherent about Bitcoin that necessitates in-person gatherings. In fact, much of the success of the open-source software project can be attributed to the fact that it’s natively digital, decentralized and accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world with a network connection. Had Satoshi ever revealed their true identity and transcended online message boards to interface with contributors in real life, it’s very possible that Bitcoin could have failed.

And yet, there is a yearning within much of the Bitcoin community to meet up, to share ideas for the project in person, to applaud and boo one another, to celebrate and confirm that, yes, there are other real humans who love this culture and technology.

Since at least August 2011, when about 50 attendees gathered in New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel for what The New York Times called the “world’s first Bitcoin conference,” Bitcoiners have been doing just that. With the bitcoin price at $11, this first event contained much of the energy and enthusiasm that persists in Bitcoin meetups to this day.

“Amateur economists mingled with the software programmers and hardware vendors, who are scrambling to shave off a slice of the nascent economy,” the Times reported of this first recorded conference. “Most people there seemed to be either Bitcoin idealists or Bitcoin profiteers. Some of them were both. The true believers in the group form a kind of ideological brotherhood and they imagine a world where online vendors make direct financial contact with their customers. No need for credit cards, banks, PayPal, and their inevitable additional costs. No more turning over sensitive private information with every purchase — although account histories are public, account owners are quasi-anonymous. Many Bitcoin enthusiasts also dream of replacing the machinations of the Federal Reserve with an inherently predictable network, one that could never print new money.”

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