The Blockchain Stallion
Could one kid create an entire cryptocurrency?
In Dover, Delaware, in 2008, a silver van with the words “Teach to Grow” pulled up to the home of fifteen-year-old Greg Gallo. Out of it emerged the teenager. He had autism. He could speak six different languages and had memorized sections of Shakespeare, but he had trouble making eye contact while he spoke to other people. Instead he would sit at his computer looking at his hands, hands that were typing an entire network of cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin.
Initially he sketched the whole thing out in his head and typed it into his Blackberry. He then transcribed those notes into a desktop, his hands flying over the keys like a concert pianist, his eyes scanning the lines of zeroes and ones like his favorite film The Matrix (1999). Even with his girlfriend Bianca, who was taking anatomy courses while studying to be a nurse, he had to calm himself down when the opening scene of the movie flashed across the scene.
He was not calm right now. Most things filled him with disdain. He sought to make a thing of beauty rather than of disgust. An Italian-American, he abhorred how people of his nationality had been portrayed in film as gangsters and mobsters. He wanted this cryptocurrency to change the depiction of all humans; his idea was to make something available to anyone willing to do the work of understanding how to use it, like some coin from the Roman Empire.
He penned the white paper weeks in advance of the Halloween presentation in 2008. As he wrote up the document, he saved all of his work on a harddrive. His password? Bu113tIm3. This was a direct reference to his number one flick. Gallo had linked up with a Russian teen named Igor Ivanov. He emailed Ivanov: “I’m getting ready to send this thing. Do you bet it will set the world on fire?”
Ivanov responded: “Of course, it will leave our political leaders scratching their balding heads!”
Gallo laughed. He continued to work out some of the kinks and bugs in the program. He kept untangling the digital knots and gained even more insight into the world of peer-to-peer payment networks. At warp speed, he tackled all the issues within his system. It was like undoing the knots of a ball of rubber bands in the digital sphere, but Gallo could handle it. He particularly enjoyed the fact that he had built something no centralized bank could regulate. This made knocking out all the bugs a splendor.
He kept his sights on the construction of the network itself. He built it up like a gleaming skyscraper. Only this skyscraper would go underground, out of sight from the world. He grinned at this fact. The idea of a network so sophisticated, that could have an anonymous founder and still be cool, filled him with glee. His thought to include a blockchain, or ledger, enthralled him so much he even giggled at the thought of people who will still be trying to unravel the links to the chain in the future.
He kept his head down and made sure that he had enough space to form a robust backup system, just in case the whole thing collapsed.
By this point, Bianca had come over to his house. Greg heard the bell ring. He saved his work and backed up his harddrive. He mimed the movements of his hero Neo dodging the bullets. He then shut off his computer, and went to the door.
“Bianca,” Gallo said.
“You have sweat on your brow. Have you been lifting weights again?”
“I’ve gotta stay in shape somehow.”