Editorial Note: We earn a commission on partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that Bitcoin (BTC) is just a teenager, launched in 2009 by the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto.
Since then, Bitcoin has seen a meteoric rise, rising from fractions of a penny to an all-time high of nearly $69,000 in November 2021.
The big “B” was the best performing asset class in the decade leading up to this all-time high. Bitcoin has returned over 230% in the 10-year period ending March 2021. For this reason alone, it is now firmly entrenched in the mainstream.
But Bitcoin’s price journey has been far from smooth. The original digital currency has seen many violent declines and pumps. Let’s take a closer look at the highs and lows of Bitcoin’s price history.
At what price did Bitcoin start?
Bitcoin was worth next to nothing originally.
The transaction that first gave Bitcoin monetary value took place in October 2009, when Finnish computer science student Martti Malmi, known online as Sirius, sold 5,050 coins for $5.02. , giving each bitcoin a value of $0.0009 each.
The exchange took place on PayPal. This may be hard to believe today, with so many crypto exchanges dedicated to buying and selling BTC these days.
Featured Partner Offers
Get up to $240 for your first deposit (US only)
Cryptocurrencies available for trading
Cryptocurrencies available for trading
Cryptocurrencies available for trading
The Early Years of Bitcoin: 2009 to 2012
Growth in BTC adoption in the early years started slowly. If you look at Bitcoin pricing data on Google Finance, it only goes back to November 20, 2015.
The early years were characterized by very little infrastructure, with only a few hobbyists buying and selling BTC.
“There was no action to speak of and no news cycle,” says Alex Preda, professor of professions, markets and technology at King’s Business School in London. “Bitcoin was a fringe phenomenon confined to a software engineering subculture and not a financial phenomenon.”
The first “real” transaction took place in May 2010 on a Bitcoin forum.
While posting on the bitcointalk.org forum, Florida native Laszlo Hanyecz asked if someone would order him two pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoins.
After buying two pizzas from Papa John’s worth about $41, the price of each Bitcoin rose to $0.0041. These pizzas are the most expensive ever ordered, worth nearly $200 million today, averaging about $12.4 million per slice.
Hanyecz made the impractical transaction for fun, telling The Sun, “I wanted to do the pizza thing because, to me, it was free pizza. I mean, I coded this thing and mined bitcoin, and I felt like I was winning the internet that day.
Bitcoin wasn’t even worth a dollar before February 2011.
That’s when the fireworks started. By June 2011, the price of Bitcoin had shot up 30 times, reaching a value of $30. In a hint of what was to come, the spike didn’t last long, with Bitcoin falling to $5.
At the end of 2011, liquidity was low and Bitcoin’s first competitor, Litecoin (LTC), appeared on the crypto scene in October 2011.
The introduction of LTC has sowed doubt in the community, with a 90% drawdown test resolution. Despite a slight rebound, 2012 was uneventful and BTC closed the year around $13.
Bitcoin attracts investors: 2013 to 2017
Bitcoin’s price trajectory began to change in 2013.
Exchanges, including Mt. Gox, were processing 70% of all Bitcoin transactions by the end of 2014 and began to onboard more and more users. Crypto has become more accessible as a result.
The price followed the increase in adoption. Opened in 2013 at $13, BTC soared to $1,000 in November 2013.
Success waned the following year after Tokyo-based Mt. Gox suffered a security breach with hackers stealing $60 million from its vaults. Mt. Gox closed due to insolvency, causing Bitcoin to plummet to around $300 by the end of the year.
“The Mt. Gox affair generally demolished investor confidence in BTC and affected sentiment toward crypto on a much broader scale,” says Alex Faliushin, CEO of crypto lending platform CoinLoan.io.
Between 2015 and 2016, Bitcoin traded slowly, making price action relatively moderate. It closed 2016 at around $1,000.
The following year saw more investors pour into the asset as increasing media coverage began to attract the average retail client.
Tariff barriers were easily torn down. BTC surpassed $1,000 in early January 2017 and $2,000 in May 2017. BTC then doubled to $4,000 in August 2017.
Now Bitcoin was finally starting to win over the doubters. Futures contracts started trading on the CME and many market participants felt that Bitcoin was becoming a real financial asset class.
The “fear of missing out” set in and more and more people flocked to buy this exclusive asset. Bitcoin rose to $10,000 in November 2021 before nearly doubling to nearly $19,000 the following month.
Investors didn’t know it then, but it took almost three years to get back to those price levels.
Bitcoin recovers: 2018 to 2021
The year 2018 did not slow Bitcoin’s downtrend. The price of BTC crashed, ending the year below $4,000. Then the digital currency closed 2019 at around $7,000.
With two years of relative inactivity and a steady downward trend, many have called Bitcoin a fad, failing to cement its place in the mainstream market.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and the stock markets fell sharply in mid-March 2020.
Bitcoin was not spared, losing 50% of its value in less than 48 hours to trade below $4,000. Some have speculated that the Covid-inspired decline will be Bitcoin’s final nail in the coffin.
But these skeptics were very wrong. With the Federal Reserve’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic by printing money for fiscal stimulus, asset prices across the board rose sharply.
Growth and tech stocks showed explosive gains, but Bitcoin got everyone talking. After halving to below $4,000 in March, BTC hit $10,000 in May 2020.
But it really caught on in the last quarter of 2020. It broke its all-time high by topping $15,000 in November 2020, rising above $20,000 in December 2020 and ending the year at around $29,000 with a market cap of over $539 billion. .
As retail investors flocked to the markets and the Federal Reserve continued to print money, assets continued to swell. Bitcoin reached $40,000 per week until 2021, $50,000 in February 2021 and $60,000 in March 2021.
After a turbulent few weeks in May, it fell below $34,000 before hitting another all-time high near $69,000 in November 2021.
Crypto Winter: 2022
Since November 2021, Bitcoin has struggled with the rest of the market. The narrative of the days of money printing was over, with economies hit by runaway inflation.
The Fed has been raising interest rates since the start of 2022, with assets furthest along the risk spectrum being penalized the most.
Higher interest rates mean a higher cost of borrowing, less investment, and a general reduction in the level of demand in the economy.
Bitcoin has been in freefall since the beginning of this year in the middle of the crypto winter.
The most damaging month this year was May, when the collapse of stablecoin TerraUSD sparked a wave of contagion through cryptocurrency markets, sending Bitcoin plummeting from $39,000 in early May to $20,000 at the end of May. mid-June, where it hovers today.
Investors are hoping that this downturn is just the latest dip before a big rally, as history has repeatedly shown for Bitcoin.
Historically, October is known as a “green” month, increasing by 26% on average. If so, we could see prices head towards the $24,000 mark.
Bitcoin Price FAQ
What Was The Lowest Bitcoin Price?
Bitcoin was originally worthless. The first transaction valued it at less than a penny in October 2009.
The first real-world transaction took place when two Papa John’s pizzas were purchased for 10,000 Bitcoins in May 2012, valuing each Bitcoin at four-tenths of a cent.
The value of these pizzas can now be tracked online, and May 22 each year is celebrated by Bitcoiners as “Bitcoin Pizza Day.”
What determines the price of Bitcoin?
Like any financial asset, many factors affect the price of Bitcoin.
Today, the market is highly correlated to the stock market and has struggled this year as stocks react to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates to combat the inflation crisis.
In addition to inflation, the precarious geopolitical climate has had an impact on markets, with the energy crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine straining economies.
In the long term, bitcoin enthusiasts hope that the continued adoption of the cryptocurrency will help it decouple from the rest of the financial markets, reduce its volatility, and act as a more reputable store of value.
But for now, it remains a high-risk asset, subject to huge swings.