Vitalik Buterin series: Bitcoin Magazine and the Whitepaper

By Annabelle Simpson
June 20, 2022 0

In this series of articles, we put Buterin under the microscope. Starting with his early life, we delve into how this genius came to be and follow his ups and downs from the early days of Ethereum, to the DAO hack, all the way to the present day. Vitalik is a true leader, who despite his youth continually demonstrates immeasurable wisdom.

Read Part One of the series here.

In the last instalment we left Buterin’s story at the point at which he first discovered Bitcoin and his initial hesitations about the value of cryptocurrency. Buterin very quickly had a change of heart when it came to cryptocurrency, and quickly became fascinated with the concept. 

In his late teens, Buterin began writing about Bitcoin for a publication called Bitcoin Magazine. Bitcoin Magazine is the self described “oldest and most established source of news, information and expert commentary on Bitcoin.” In his early writings Buterin’s genius was clearly evident. He has consistently demonstrated an innate ability to simply describe very complex and technical concepts in a style that is engaging for the average reader and suitable for mainstream consumption. An early piece of Buterin’s where he provides a guide for journalists on common misconceptions about Bitcoin is telling. In the article Buterin lists five misconceptions including:

  1. Bitcoin does not have a central organisation or authority.
  2. The Bitcoin price did NOT fall to $0.01 in June 2011.
  3. Bitcoin itself has never been significantly counterfeited or hacked.
  4. Bitcoin is NOT (yet) seeing massive growth in usage to evade trade sanctions in Iran.
  5. Bitcoin IS being used to sell illegal drugs on sites like Silk Road. However, illegal goods other than drugs – including assassinations, child pornography and even guns, are NOT gaining significant traction.

He intelligently rebukes these misconceptions and outlines arguments that are still utilised by crypto industry advocates when defending the technology today.

These early writings were the tip of the iceberg, when it came to Buterin’s publishing prowess. In 2014 Buterin published Ethereum’s seminal text, the whitepaper. The whitepaper served as the fuse that instigated the raise of funding for the building of the Ethereum Network. In the whitepaper Buterin builds on the concepts underpinning the Bitcoin network and proposes a blockchain “with a built-in fully fledged Turing-complete programming language that can be used to create ‘contracts’.”

Following the publication of the whitepaper, Buterin revealed his grand plans for Ethereum more publicly at a Bitcoin conference in Miami. His speech, which detailed the intricacies of the technology behind Ethereum received a standing ovation.

Buterin’s intellect attracted a great deal of interest from the crypto community, so much so that Ethereum’s founding team is far larger than most crypto projects.

In the next article we will examine the early days of Ethereum and the drama that ensued with The DAO hack.


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