Charted: The life and (many) deaths of bitcoin

Not just fool’s gold, it seems.
Not just fool’s gold, it seems.
Image: Reuters/Jim Urquhart
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Bitcoin has had an eventful life. Since the cryptocurrency’s inception in 2008, all the bitcoins in circulation have grown from being worth nothing to a value of nearly $7 billion today.

Along the way, however, bitcoin helped fuel the rise of the Silk Road, a globe-spanning black market for narcotics and other contraband that prompted a major clampdown by US authorities. Its founder, Ross Ulbricht (also known as the “Dread Pirate Roberts”), is currently facing two consecutive life sentences.

Today, the open-source technology is in the midst of a “civil war” among its top developers that threatens to stifle its growth, while convoluted paternity claims pop up on an almost annual basis.

That’s why bitcoin has been declared dead 101 times, according to one estimate by bitcoin guide 99 Bitcoins.

But even as dozens of obituaries for the digital currency appear annually, its price has proved resilient. A long bear run in 2014 and 2015 saw the obituary count spike. But the price now appears poised for a period of upward momentum, having been on the rise all year.

The obituary writers may want to put their pens away, temporarily.