It’s been six years since Hal Finney died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Finney is known as an early supporter of Bitcoin (BTC) and one of the first to respond to Satoshi Nakamoto’s first post on the Cypherpunk mailing list. In the early days of Bitcoin, he was the only one who fully understood the technology’s potential without explicitly questioning its prospects.
Finney was one of the most famous crypto designers in the cypherpunk community even before he started working with Bitcoin. Early in his career, he worked for PGP Corporation, which owns Pretty Good Privacy Software (PGP). With the program, users can encrypt their texts, emails and files. In 2004, Finney developed the Reowable Proof of Work (RPOW) program. It builds on the proof-of-work concept that Adam Buck developed in Hashcash by introducing reusability, hence the name. This was one of the starting points of Bitcoin. Interestingly, Satoshi did not quote Finny’s work in his white paper.
Crypto agent Adam Buck told Cointelegraph that he has had a number of email conversations with Finney over the years, including Back, who asked for a comment on RPOW. Although they didn’t meet in person, Buck fondly remembers Finny:
Well, I’ve never met him in person, but I consider him a constructive figure who is more interested in building things than debating politics. While building things with Cypherpunk intent, he only focused on the constructive part of the conversation. I don’t think I saw him share the arguments for the Cypherpunks list online.
Apparently, Finny was the first outside of Satoshi to start mining Bitcoin, and he was also the recipient of the first transaction. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2009. The progression of the disease was slow at first, but Finney was completely paralyzed in the final months of his life. Farewell to Bitcointalk.org, you are downplaying the importance of his commitment to Bitcoin. After his death in 2014, Finney’s body was cooled.
Before his death, Finney and his wife Fran worked to raise awareness of ALS and raise funds. Since leaving, Fran Feeney has carried on her husband’s legacy.