These days you won’t have any problems spending your bitcoins. You can book flights, buy apartments and eat and drink your way through most of the world’s major cities. But three years ago things were different. Then you had to fly to Berlin and make your way to a small bar in the city’s Kreuzberg district if you wanted to spend bitcoins.
Room 77 in the German capital is celebrating three years of accepting the cryptocurrency. The exact date is not really clear but the owner of the bar, Joerg Platzer, approximated that it was around May 2011 that he accepted the first bitcoin transaction for a beer.
Unless challenged, he will continue to claim that it was the world’s first purchase with the digital currency in a shop, restaurant or bar.
Then and now
Things have changed dramatically since then. Bitcoin has seen highs and lows, it has been embraced by many and discredited by others but it has continued its march towards global recognition.
Back then, Platzer explained, he was happy if he had one or two bitcoin purchases per month; now he has up to 10 purchases per evening.
Back then people would turn up with their laptops and manually type in the address codes to make transactions; now young hipsters show up with their smartphones and make transactions like it’s the easiest thing in the world.
Back then Platzer would be ecstatic if four people showed up to a bitcoin meetup; now his bar fills up on the first Thursday of every month when the local enthusiasts meet.
Platzer described himself as an old-school “hacker, lock picker and freak”. In his circles there was talk of a decentralized digital currency for years, and when he heard about bitcoin for the first time he knew he was on to something big. He said:
“I felt 20 years younger. This was the sort of money I read about when I was young. I just said, ‘lets go for it’.”
He put up a sign advertising that bitcoin was accepted in the bar, and waited for the first customer. And waited, and waited.
“Everyone was laughing about it and people were asking ‘what is this funny bitcoin stuff [that] was on the wall’. The staff just shook their heads and said it was some strange thing the boss liked.”
- ^ book flights (btctrip.com)
- ^ buy apartments (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ the bar (www.room77.de)
- ^ highs and lows (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ embraced by many (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ discredited by others (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ bitcoin entrepreneurs (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ more regulation (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ altcoin (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ banks (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ Berlin (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ History (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ regulation (www.coindesk.com)
- ^ Room 77 (www.coindesk.com)