A Sculpture in Commemoration of Hal Finney
Celebrating Hal’s 65th Birthday and His Contributions to Bitcoin
— halfin (@halfin) January 11, 2009
Hal Finney was one of the very first people to run Bitcoin. He wrote “When Satoshi announced the first release of the software, I grabbed it right away. I think I was the first person besides Satoshi to run bitcoin.” We also know that Hal was there right at the beginning due to his now-famous tweet which simply states, “Running bitcoin”. This sculpture was directly inspired by that tweet.
When Bitcoin was first released in early 2009, Hal was in great shape and was running quite a bit. Hal wrote, “I’d lost a lot of weight and taken up distance running.” He had run half marathons and was looking forward to running a full marathon. Unfortunately, later that same year, he was diagnosed with ALS and his running days were quickly coming to a close. On September 5, 2009, Hal ran his last race — the Disney Half Marathon in Anaheim, California. He ran that race with his wife Fran. Hal wore the number 415 in his final race and that number is carried on in this sculpture.
First Person-to-Person Bitcoin Transaction
On January 11, 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto (the creator of Bitcoin) made the first person-to-person bitcoin transaction — he sent 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney as a test. Lucky for all of us that the transaction worked, and people have sent bitcoins all over the world ever since. That first transaction is forever saved on the blockchain, and the first eight characters of that transaction hash ( f4184fc5 ) are incorporated into this sculpture. Those eight characters also share the digits 4, 1, and 5 with Hal’s race number pictured above.
Riding the Bitcoin Roller Coaster
Hal was enjoying the roller coaster ride along with the rest of us. He wrote “the price gyrations of bitcoins are entertaining to me. I have skin in the game. … I lived through the crash of 2011. So I’ve seen it before. Easy come, easy go.” Hal wrote that in March 2013 — about 1 month before I created the Bitcoin Roller Coaster animated gif.
Proof of Work
In 2004, Hal created the first reusable proof-of-work system (RPOW). RPOW used Hashcash which is a proof-of-work algorithm developed by Adam Back in 1997. Prior to RPOW proof-of-works were not reusable — RPOW allowed for sequential reuse to pass on a token. Hal’s RPOW also allowed users from anywhere to verify a token’s validity and correctness. This work paved the way for Bitcoin.
My Proof of Work
Progress during carving of the body
Just after oiling the carved body
Checking the alignment of the arm and hand
The Bitcoin body of the sculpture is cut and hand-carved from Basswood. The wood was oiled first and then painted with oil paints that were cut with more oil to allow the wood grain to be seen. The body measures approximately 5 inches tall. The sign in his hand was made with the same process as the body. The limbs of the piece are made from steel and painted. All metal joints were soldered with silver. The base is a piece of a New Hampshire maple tree that is partially carved and oiled. The base was chosen for its unique natural curves and interesting beauty.
Overall Approximate Dimensions: 11″ tall × 15″ long × 7″ deep (28cm × 38cm × 18cm)
More About Hal
- Hal graduated High School in 1974 as valedictorian of his class
- He worked on programming video games for Intellivision and Atari
- Hal developed early versions of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) with Phil Zimmerman. He later became Senior Software Engineer of PGP Inc.
- Hal ran the first cryptographically based anonymous remailer — a server that would receive and forward messages without revealing the original sender
- Hal was married to his wife, Fran, for 35 years and they had 2 children
- He enjoyed skiing, bicycling, hiking, and trail running with their dogs
- He also enjoyed flying, and had a private pilot’s license
- Some other of his hobbies/passions included astronomy and magic
- Hal was a libertarian who believed in individual freedom and peaceful interaction
- He was a positive person who looked forward to the future and the changes ahead
- When Hal died on August 28, 2014, he was cryopreserved
On August 5, 2009, Hal Finney was diagnosed with ALS — a progressive degenerative disease. People with ALS also lose involuntary muscle function. The usual cause of death is respiratory failure because the lungs cease to function. There is currently no cure for ALS. Hal died from ALS five years after his diagnosis. 50% of the sale price from this art auction will go to The ALS Association Golden West Chapter.
About The ALS Association Golden West Chapter
The Golden West Chapter supports people living with ALS, and their loved ones, in 31 counties throughout California and the state of Hawaii. Everything they do advances the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS.
If you would like to donate Bitcoin in memory of Hal Finney and to advance the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS, please visit HalsPalsFightALS.org
As long as Bitcoin is running, it carries the flag of financial freedom for Hal.
Sculpture show with 15″ MacBook and mug for scale.
Hal Finney quotes are from his post on BitcoinTalk.
Photos of Hal, stories and info provided by Fran Finney.