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First Bitcoin transaction: pizza or JPEG?



Bitcoin Pizza Day, celebrated on the 22nd of May, marks an important milestone in the history of cryptocurrency. It was the day in May 2010 when Laszlo Hanyecz famously became the first person to exchange Bitcoin for physical goods, by purchasing two large pizzas with the virtual currency.

While the famous pizza transaction is widely regarded as the first known Bitcoin transaction for tangible goods, there is evidence that an earlier transaction may have taken place. An individual reportedly offered to sell a picture they created for 500 Bitcoins in January 2010, three months prior to the pizza purchase.

At the time, 500 Bitcoin was estimated to be roughly $1, which the individual intended to obtain by selling the picture. The user Sabunir made the offer in an online open chat on under the heading “A newb’s test – anyone want to buy a picture for $1?” In the chat, they posted their wallet address and asked any interested buyer to send the funds to receive the picture afterward.

Specifically, the individual said, “For now, if anyone sends 500 Coins and tells me in a private message the time they sent it, I shall respond with a link to the picture.”

The picture, according to the individual, has a resolution of 1280×960 and would fit as a desktop background. They added that if it generates any interest, then they could offer more pictures from their creation.

The conversation thread for the transaction continued on February 09, 2010, and showed no information about a sale. The individual commented, “It seems apparent that this offer is not desired,” and asked if the picture was not liked or if the price was not accepted, but gave options for other reasons. Another user responded that it doesn’t make much sense to spend money on a picture when they can get it for free elsewhere.

However, data shows that the address has a transaction of 500 Bitcoin on February 24, 2010, implying that if the transaction was due to the sale of the picture, then it predates the infamous first Bitcoin transaction of 10,000 for 2 pizzas which occurred on May 22, 2010.

The idea of selling a picture for Bitcoin suggests the NFT market model today, where unique non-fungible “Jpegs” are exchanged for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While 1 Bitcoin was trading for less than a penny at that time, and 500 Bitcoin were worth roughly $1, Bitcoin today trades for $27,219.78 with a 24-hour trading volume of $11,494,110,962 according to CoinMarketCap.

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