So Satoshi definitely wasn't mining alone in the early days. Though, the number of people participating in Bitcoin during the early days was definitely slim. These early pioneers mined and lost a crazy amount of bitcoins before Bitcoin entered the planet's vernacular in earnest.
I feel like I've been using this rag to preemptively prepare you freaks for future attacks on or vulnerabilities in Bitcoin. Last Friday, we discussed the year 2038 problem and the eventual need for a hard fork to prevent the chain from halting. Today, we're going to focus on the inevitable attack on Bitcoin using the early distribution of bitcoins as an attack vector, especially Satoshi's stash. As Bitcoin becomes more and more ingrained into our everyday lives and as the price continues to rise, the FUD will shift from the energy consumed by mining (this particular FUD has been thoroughly debunked recently) to the "unfair distribution of wealth" created by Bitcoin, specifically in the early years when there weren't that many people interested in the nascent technology and advantageous individuals were able to accumulate a lot via mining.
Let's begin to get ahead of this while we can, Bitcoin's initial distribution is one of the fairest distributions in the history of any money. All one had to do to participate was download the software and start mining on a laptop (while CPU mining was still viable). Satoshi gave everyone 2-months warning before mining the Genesis block and reached out to the only other people who would possibly be interested in experimenting with a sovereign digital currency at the time, the cypherpunks. We know for a fact that Hal Finney was mining not too long after the initial launch:
So Satoshi definitely wasn't mining alone in the early days. Though, the number of people participating in Bitcoin during the early days was definitely slim. These early pioneers mined and lost a crazy amount of bitcoins before Bitcoin entered the planet's vernacular in earnest. If they didn't lose their private keys or sell their coins during one of the last four bubbles, those early movers are sitting pretty right now. This is okay. These people deserve their bitcoins. They were some of the few who were crazy enough to take the financial, temporal and social risks to participate in the Bitcoin project, keeping it alive and acting as arbiters of the system in its early days. There is nothing unfair about this, but the screeches of "unfair distribution!" are beginning to crescendo as Bitcoin continues to be successful. These people are idiots.
Since the Genesis Block, Bitcoin has been completely open source and open for anyone to download and begin participating. Just because there were only a few people participating when everyone else thought Bitcoin was stupid doesn't mean the distribution was unfair. It means there was an information asymmetry that the risk takers took advantage of. All is fair in love and Bitcoin.
Nothing like running into a friend on the street in a city of millions.