The Price of Bitcoin Over the Last 10 Years

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On May 22, 2010, crypto-miner Laszlo Hanyecz traded 10,000 of his Bitcoins for two Papa John’s pizzas. It was the first real-world cryptocurrency transaction in history.

Today, only a little more than a decade later, those same 10,000 Bitcoins would be worth $470 million. The price of Bitcoin over the years has gone from being worth less than a penny to being worth a Lexus GX 460 luxury SUV with money left over — all in a little more than a decade.

The Price of Bitcoin Over the Years

When mystery person(s) Satoshi Nakamoto developed Bitcoin in 2008, it didn’t have a standard value or price. Cryptography hobbyists mined it and used it to barter, exchange and settle bets and challenges with each other online.

It never had a fixed value until that monumental day in 2010 when Laszlo Hanyecz offered his self-mined stash of Bitcoins to anyone who could get a couple of pizzas to his house the fastest.

Since the pizzas were valued at about $25, according to U.S. News and World Report, the nascent crypto community agreed that a single Bitcoin should be worth a quarter of a penny. It was a defining moment in the history of Bitcoin prices — the cryptocurrency now had an agreed-upon value.

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2010: Bitcoin Makes its Exchange Debut at $0.0008

In July 2010, a few months after the now-famous pizza standard was set, Bitcoin hit the open exchanges like the now infamous and bankrupt Mt. Gox. On exchanges, the cryptocurrency could be easily bought, sold and priced against the U.S. dollar. It opened with an asking price of $0.0008. That’s eight 10,000ths of a dollar. The wild ride of the coming decade would start almost immediately. By the end of the month, Bitcoin’s price had soared to $0.08 — eight whole pennies.

2011: The First of Many Bubbles

February 2011 was a milestone for Bitcoin, which breached the $1 mark that month. Then, something that would come to define Bitcoin investing happened for the first time–a bubble formed. By June, just a few months later, Bitcoin had soared to around $31 before the bubble did what bubbles do. It burst and the price flopped back down to single digits.

2013: Bitcoin Breaks Out

2013 was a watershed moment for Bitcoin, which started the year trading at around $12, according to Forbes. By the end of November, that number had vaulted to $1,242, an incredible record high for Bitcoin, which at that point was trading at almost exactly the same price as an ounce of gold.

2017: Dotcom Comparisons

2013 turned out to be a bubble, too. Prices fell back down to the low triple-digits and stayed there — until they didn’t. In 2016, Bitcoin moved into the high triple digits and at the very start of 2017, it broke $1,000 again.

In a run that drew comparisons to the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, it took off and never stopped until it peaked on Dec. 16, 2017, at $19,497.40. It was yet another bubble. Prices soon collapsed to under $10,000, bottoming out in the low $3,000s at the end of 2018 and the start of 2019.

2020: The Pandemic Adds Rocket Fuel

In 2019, prices briefly breached $10,000 again before fizzling into a low four-figure lull. Then the 2020 pandemic came. COVID-19 made the discreet, secure and decentralized Bitcoin a hot commodity that continued to get hotter and hasn’t cooled off since.

Bitcoin started 2020 at $7,200. By mid-summer, it was back into five figures, where it remains to this day. By the middle of December, it had passed the 2017 record and was trading in the $20,000s for the first time — $30,000 at the start of January 2021.

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Bitcoin Prices in 2021

In the middle of February, Bitcoin topped $50,000, then topped $60,000 just one month later in the middle of March. As of March 22, Bitcoin is trading at a little over $55,000.

An Analysis of the Price of Bitcoin Over the Years

Bitcoin’s price history is a story of extremes. The first extreme is obvious — astronomical growth. In gains that are truly hard to grasp, Bitcoin started at $0.0008 and rose above $60,000 in just over a decade.

The second extreme came in the form of volatility. Those gains were hardly earned in a straight line. The decade was peppered with massive bubbles that, when burst, triggered freefalling prices that then floated sideways for years on end until the next bubble formed. That pattern started in 2011 and repeated itself in 2013, 2017 and 2019, before landing Bitcoin where it is today.

What Has Influenced Bitcoin Prices?

Those speculative bubbles seem to have formed around times of crisis, fear and uncertainty. Bitcoin was developed in 2008 as an alternative to the traditional financial system at the height of the Great Recession.

A bubble formed around the election of Donald Trump, another formed around his impeachment, and then the biggest of them all came during the biggest crisis of all — the pandemic.

Drama in Bitcoin’s early years made the ride a whole lot bumpier, as well. Ponzi schemes and other frauds that had nothing to do with Bitcoin, like Bitconnect and OneCoin, had ripple effects felt by all cryptocurrency investors.

The MT. Gox Catastrophe Changed Everything

The first, biggest, and best-known exchange, Mt. Gox processed 70% of all Bitcoin transactions. In 2011, the first in an endless string of scandals erupted when a hacker broke into the now-infamous Bitcoin wallet and transferred tokens out of user accounts.

The price of Bitcoin collapsed as new thefts and hacks were revealed, legal troubles mounted, the government got involved, and Mt. Gox finally declared bankruptcy in 2014.

In total, 740,000 Bitcoin worth more than $40 billion in today’s money were lost. Bitcoin and crypto, in general, lost mainstream credibility and earned a rep as a shady, insecure and speculative investment in many circles.

Frequently Asked Questions: The History of Bitcoin Prices

When it comes to the cost of crypto, these are the questions most investors are asking.

What was the original price of Bitcoin?
$0. In the early days, Bitcoin was mined, traded and exchanged informally almost exclusively by cryptography hobbyists. There were no exchanges or exchange rates until it started trading for fractions of a penny in 2010.

What was the highest price of 1 Bitcoin?
On March 13, 2021, BTC closed at $61,243.09.

When did Bitcoin cost $1?
Bitcoin achieved parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time in February 2011.

What will Bitcoin be worth in 2030?
Before the pandemic, Forbes spoke to an expert who predicted Bitcoin would hit $500,000 in 10 years–by 2030. COVID-19, of course, changed everything, and it’s not uncommon now to read about speculation of Bitcoin reaching $1 million by the end of the decade.

As Coindesk points out, Bitcoin could topple and replace fiat currency — but it could also collapse and be replaced by something else, be regulated or taxed into irrelevance, lose out to a competitor, become the dominant digital currency or replace credit cards.

Takeaway

During its short, 13-year existence, Bitcoin has outperformed the stock market, the housing market and precious metals by a longshot during one of the greatest runs of any investment in history. It has been a wild and unpredictable ride characterized by super-inflated bubbles and steep crashes, but those who could stomach the roller coaster watched a fortune grow out of a pizza.

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Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.

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