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Bitcoin Price History: 2009 - 2022

By Brian Nibley · July 19, 2022 · 8 minute read

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Bitcoin Price History: 2009 - 2022

Bitcoin’s price has gone on a wild ride since its founding over 13 years ago. Those who bought Bitcoin (BTC) early and held onto it have typically seen phenomenal returns, but the fluctuations in Bitcoin’s price — as with all forms of crypto — have also led to considerable losses.

For crypto fans and investors curious about this space, the volatile price history of the world’s oldest and most widely embraced cryptocurrency can also be viewed as a much broader saga. Bitcoin’s story reflects the rise of decentralized finance (DeFi), the emergence of blockchain technology, and countless innovations that are changing how investors think of commerce as well as what the future of crypto might hold.

Bitcoin Price History

While some enjoy making Bitcoin price history comparisons to past speculative manias like Beanie Babies or tulip bulbs, speculation is only one factor in any given Bitcoin price fluctuation.

Over the years, a fairly reliable pattern has emerged in Bitcoin’s price history. Every four years, the network undergoes a change called “the halving,” where the supply of new crypto coins rewarded to Bitcoin miners gets cut in half. This has happened three times so far. The first Bitcoin halving occurred in 2012, from 50 BTC to 25 BTC, the second in 2016, from 25 to 12.5, and the third in 2020.

As of July 15, 2022, the current reward for Bitcoin mining stands at 6.25 BTC.

In each instance, the price of BTC reached new record highs in the year or so following each halving event. This was typically followed by a Bitcoin bear market. After a period of consolidation, the price then moved upwards again in anticipation of the next halving, beginning a new Bitcoin bull market.

While the price of BTC can hardly be considered predictable, it’s useful to view the chapters in Bitcoin’s price history and what it may mean for investors.

Bitcoin Price in 2009: The Beginning

Bitcoin Price in 2009: $0

On October 31, 2008, the pseudonymous person or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin white paper. This paper introduced a peer-to-peer digital cash system based on a new form of distributed ledger technology called blockchain.

Then, on January 3, 2009, the Bitcoin network went live with the mining of the genesis block, which allowed the first group of transactions to begin a blockchain. This block contained a text note that read: “Chancellor on Brink of Second Bailout for Banks.” This referenced an article in The London Times about the financial crisis of 2008 – 2009, when commercial banks received trillions in bailout money from central banks and governments.

For this reason and others, many suspect that Nakamoto created Bitcoin, at least in part, in response to the way the events of those years played out.

Bitcoin Breaks the Mold of Legacy Finance

Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency sent over a peer-to-peer network that allows people and organizations to bypass legacy financial institutions.

Bitcoin is also the first-of-its-kind scarce digital asset, with a fixed supply cap of 21 million BTC. Some refer to it as “digital gold” for this reason. Like gold, Bitcoins have to be “mined” and can’t be created by government edict, like fiat currencies.

Mining involves solving complex mathematical problems using advanced computers. The computers who do this work receive newly minted coins as a reward. This is typically known as a proof-of-work system (PoW), and it’s also a way of building consensus in an otherwise decentralized system.

Proof of work was the dominant way most crypto were produced in these early years. Ethereum, the next generation of crypto, started with a proof-of-work blockchain, and is migrating to a proof-of-stake system.

Bitcoin Price in 2011: The Surge Pt. 1

Bitcoin Price in 2011: $1 – $30

The Bitcoin price in 2009 was barely above zero. Real adoption of Bitcoin began to take place about two years later, and a major Bitcoin price surge happened for the first time.

In 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) accepted BTC for donations for a few months, but quickly backtracked due to a lack of a legal framework for virtual currencies.

In February of 2011, BTC reached $1.00, achieving parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time. Months later, the price of BTC reached $10 and then quickly soared to $30 on the Mt. Gox exchange. Bitcoin had risen 100x from the year’s starting price of about $0.30.

By year’s end, though, the price of Bitcoin was under $5. No one can say for sure exactly why the price behaved as it did, especially back when the technology was so new. It could be that 2011 marked the launch of Litecoin, a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain — and other forms of crypto began to emerge as well — signaling greater competition.

In 2012, of course, Bitcoin saw its first halving, from a 50-coin reward for mining BTC to 25 coins. This set the stage for its precipitous growth. But the pattern of an 80% – 90% correction from record highs would continue to repeat itself going forward, even as much more Bitcoin liquidity would come into being.

Bitcoin Price in 2013: The Decisive Year

Bitcoin Price in 2013: $13- $1,100

In 2013, the EFF began accepting Bitcoin again, and this was the strongest year in Bitcoin price history in terms of percentage gains. The cryptocurrency saw gains of 6,600%.

Starting at $13 in the beginning of the year, the price of Bitcoin rose to almost $250 in April before correcting downward over 50%. The price consolidated for about six months until another historic rally in November and December of that year, when the price peaked out at $1,100.

This bull run saw Bitcoin’s market cap exceed $1 billion for the first time ever. The world’s first Bitcoin ATM was also installed in Vancouver, allowing people to convert cash into crypto.

It would be over three years before the Bitcoin price would reach $1,000 again. The Bitcoin price in 2013 bottomed out at -85% off its record high.

Amidst this volatility was a surge in crypto interest, with Dogecoin being one of the more notable coins to emerge at that time. Though considered a meme coin, Dogecoin still exists.

Bitcoin Price in 2014 – 2016: The Fallow Period

While the cryptoverse quietly exploded in this time period, with technological innovations that permitted a move away from proof-of-work to the less onerous proof-of-stake, as well as the emergence of smart contracts, and the real foundations of decentralized finance — Bitcoin was relatively quiet.

The price held steady in the $200 to $400 range for much of this time, but began to climb with the second halving in 2016 — and quickly reached five digits within the year after the halving, peaking at nearly $20,000 in December of 2017. Let’s take a closer look.

Bitcoin Price in 2017: The Surge Pt. 2

Bitcoin Price in 2017: $1,100 – $20,000

The Bitcoin price in 2017 breached the $1,100 mark in January, a new record high at the time — following the Bitcoin halving in July of 2016. By December, the price had soared to nearly $20,000. That’s a 20x rise in less than 12 months, and it was followed predictably by a decline through 2018 and 2019. Bitcoin wouldn’t see the other side of $20,000 until late 2020.

Like the 2013 price surge, the 2017 rally occurred about one year after the halving. What made this time different was that for the first time ever, the general public became more aware of cryptocurrency. Mainstream news outlets began covering stories relating to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This price rise largely reflected retail investors entering the market for the first time.

Opinions on Bitcoin ranged from thinking it was a scam to believing it was the greatest thing ever. For the believers, this was an opportunity to learn how to invest in Bitcoin for the first time, but there’s little doubt that the influx of retail interest in the crypto markets contributed heavily to volatility across the board.

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Bitcoin Price in 2020: After the 3rd Halving

The crypto feeding frenzy was well underway by the end of 2019, with hundreds of new coins on the market. By January 3, 2020, Bitcoin’s price was $7,347.49 and it steadily rose as the halving in May of 2020 approached, shooting north of $9,100 that month, nearly a 25% increase in just a few months.

But that was just the start of a meteoric rise — and fall — for BTC that few will forget, and a phase of Bitcoin’s story that many tie to the pandemic. With millions of people worldwide confined at home from 2020 through 2021 (in some cases longer), online speculation became a widespread phenomenon. One offshoot of that may have been the biggest Bitcoin bull market to date.

Bitcoin Price in 2021-2022: An Epic Rise and Fall

In August 2021, the price of Bitcoin was hovering around $46,000, and by November 2021 BTC hit its all-time high of over $68,500.

bitcoin price chart 2021

Toward the end of 2021, however, the Bitcoin hash rate, a factor thought to have some correlation to the Bitcoin price, plummeted. This occurred partly as a result of China requiring its citizens to shut down Bitcoin mining operations. The country previously housed a significant portion of the network’s mining nodes. As a result, these computers had to go offline. Many believe this reduction in mining capacity was a key factor weighing on the Bitcoin price.

But politicians and regulators also raised concerns about the future of crypto laws and regulations, adding to the general mood that crypto mavens refer to as FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) — one of many crypto slang terms now in wider use.

In any case, as of July 15, 2022, the price of BTC can be viewed through a couple of different lenses. One could note that at about $20,000, BTC is currently about 70% off its all-time high. Or one could take a long-term view going back to 2009, and calculate its staggering growth in just 13 years.

The Stock-to-Flow Model

Any discussion of Bitcoin price history would be incomplete without mentioning the stock-to-flow model and how it’s applied in the case of BTC valuations.

As volatile as cryptocurrencies are, investors still try to anticipate price changes — similar to stock market analysts. One formula that’s applied to cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, is the stock-to-flow ratio. This ratio uses the current rate of production to help predict the number of years it will take to reach the current supply (stock).

Since Bitcoin’s supply is fixed, and so is the production rate (roughly), some crypto analysts use the stock-to-flow model to anticipate BTC’s price.

The basic idea is that because the new supply of Bitcoins coming online remains fixed, and gets cut in half every four years, the price will react accordingly within a certain range assuming demand remains constant or rises.

💡 Recommended: How Many Bitcoins Are Left?

The Takeaway

While the price of Bitcoin has often defied expectations, it helps to remember that the history of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency is just beginning. Thanks to the cap on its coin supply, BTC remains a relatively scarce and coveted currency, thus it is likely to have value over time.

If Bitcoin continues to grow at even a fraction of the rate it has over the past 13 years, the gains for long-term crypto investors would outpace that of most other asset classes. If the stock-to-flow model remains accurate, then Bitcoin would reach the $100,000 mark in the near future. Past performance does not indicate future results, however, and it’s always possible that models like these can break down.

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Photo credit: iStock/simarik


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