Cypherpunks and The Rise of Crypto

Jul 13, 2021

Cypherpunks and cryptocurrency enthusiasts will always be tied together by virtue of the fact that they share a common interest – cryptography. A cypherpunk is an individual that advocates for cryptography and privacy as means to social and political change. And a crypto enthusiast is someone who embraces the idea of a decentralized economy.

While practically all of the innovations in the cryptocurrency space are very new, most of them are built on decades of work that led up to this point. After all, cryptocurrencies are, to a large degree, considered to be the spawn of the cypherpunk movement. In fact, Bitcoin strengthened the cypherpunk movement. When traditional financing cut off organizations that it didn’t like, they could continue to operate using bitcoin donations. In other words, bitcoin allowed such companies to circumvent any censorship and enable freedom of speech and information.

But who are the people behind the cypherpunk movement that started it all?

Adam Back - Cypherpunks and The Rise of Crypto

sourced from Blockstream

Adam Back

British cryptographer and Cypherpunk, he is also the CEO and co-founder of Blockstream. This company develops various products and services for the storage and transfer of digital assets such as Bitcoin.

He is also the genius behind Hashcash, a POW (proof of work) system used in cryptocurrency mining today. Born in 1970, Adam Back is considered a pioneer in early digital asset research. In 2016, there was even speculation that he might be behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto as he was one of the first two people to receive an email from Nakamoto.

Hal Finney 

sourced from Wikipedia

Hal Finney

Born in 1956, Finney was a notable cryptography activist. Besides being an active member on the cypherpunk mailing list, he also created a reusable proof of work (RPOW). RPOWS, which were built on Back’s Hashcash, were cryptographic tokens that could only be used once.

He, too, was considered as a candidate for Satoshi Nakamoto, but he denied it. Nonetheless, Finney was a Bitcoin enthusiast and user. In fact, he was the person to receive the first-ever Bitcoin.

Nick Szabo

sourced from the University of Arkansas 

Nick Szabo

Being an American computer scientist, legal scholar, and cryptographer, Szabo developed what is today known as ‘smart contracts.’ These are self-executing agreements found in lines of code that control the executions and transactions on a blockchain network.

In 1998, he also designed a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency called ‘bit gold’. Although he never implemented bit gold, many consider Szabo’s design as a direct precursor to digital currencies as we know them today.

His name was among those that were considered to be Satoshi Nakamoto.

John Gilmore - Cypherpunks and The Rise of Crypto

sourced from Wikipedia

John Gilmore

Born in 1955, he was an activist and one of the founders of the Cypherpunks mailing list. He is also one of the founders of Cygnus Solutions which heftily contributed to the GNU Project and the co-author of Bootstrap Protocol.

As a primordial cypherpunk, John Gilmore believed that cryptography was not an end in and of itself. Instead, it was a means to liberate the masses from the control of central authorities. These are the same pillars that blockchain and cryptocurrencies were built on.

Julian Assange

sourced from DW

Julian Assange

Although his real claim to fame is WikiLeaks, Julian Assange’s contribution to the cypherpunk movement is undeniable. He became involved with the Cypherpunk movement and was quick to share his disdain for centralized authority.

His organization, WikiLeaks, revealed classified materials showing acts of corruption committed by central authorities like governments, banks, and others. In his beliefs, cryptology is a means to prevent the inevitable decline into totalitarian rule and a police state.