Our Hero Hal: Fundraising For A Bitcoin Visionary

Hal Finney battled ALS until his death on August 28, 2009. Six years later, we’re working with the Bitcoin community to continue that fight.

Hal Finney is remembered as one of the early pioneers of Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, and an advocate for widespread use of cryptography to help enhance people’s privacy.  

Finney was one of the biggest defenders and supporters of Bitcoin from its earliest days. He rose to the defense of the still incubating technology against fellow cryptologists who were convinced it would never work. Finney held the distinction of getting the first bitcoin ever transferred to anybody as a test from Satoshi Nakamoto (whoever that is).

He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in August 2009 and fought for years to continue to do what he loved: write code. From one of his last posts on the Bitcointalk forums titled “Bitcoin and Me,” he wrote, 

“ALS is a disease that kills moter neurons [sic], which carry signals from the brain to the muscles. It causes first weakness, then gradually increasing paralysis.”

“Today, I am essentially paralyzed… I operate the computer using a commercial eyetracker system. It also has a speech synthesizer, so this is my voice now.”

“It has been an adjustment, but my life is not too bad. I can still read, listen to music, and watch TV and movies. I recently discovered that I can even write code. It’s very slow, probably 50 times slower than I was before. But I still love programming and it gives me goals.”

“That’s my story. I’m pretty lucky overall. Even with the ALS, my life is very satisfying.”

ALS is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The life expectancy of a person with ALS averages from 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis. ALS can strike anyone, and presently there is no known cause or cure.

The Bitcoin Magazine team is participating in the Nashville Chapter of the ALS Association’s virtual walk and fundraiser. From now until October 3, we’ll be remembering Hal’s legacy in different ways across all of our channels.

There are three ways you can contribute to our fundraiser:

UPDATE: As of the end of our fundraiser, over 8.25 million satoshis have been donated to our fundraiser! Thank you to everyone who donated!

For contributing fiat, we’re using the official ALS Association’s fundraising website. Our team page can be found by visiting https://bitcoinmagazine.com/our-hero-hal-fundraiser.

The Golden West Chapter of the ALS Association is the first chapter to be approved for Bitcoin donations and has worked with CashApp (cashtag $ALSAGoldenWest) to make this possible. Please visit http://halspalsfightals.org/ to make donations directly to the ALSA with bitcoin.

We’re using Tallycoin to take in bitcoin and lightning donations which will then be sent over to the Golden West Chapter at the end of the fundraiser. We wanted to enable lightning donations, but didn’t have that ability yet for donating directly to the ALS Association. Please visit https://tallyco.in/s/icu3g6/ if you’re looking to use lightning for your donation.

For the largest donation, we’ll be gifting two pieces of limited-series art from CryptoGraffiti and BitcoinAudio.

cryptograffiti has donated a limited-edition print of his artwork Running bitcoin. The original work was made to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Finney’s involvement in Bitcoin and included a WiFi-enabled, custom node from Casa. The print is on aqueous pigment fine art, semi-gloss rag paper and comes with a small piece of Hal’s credit card left over from the original artwork. The print is #85 of 100 and will be shipped unframed.

See Also
The $150,000 grant from the cryptocurrency exchanges is the latest in a wave of donations to those working on Bitcoin Core.

BitcoinAudio uses bitcoin as a musical instrument to create programmatically-generated tracks. We’re taking Audio’s “Hal’s Block” track and doing a limited run of vinyl records as a unique offering for our fundraiser. We’ll be creating a small batch of records for use in future fundraisers. Custom artwork for the cover and label is being done by our in-house designer, Tommy.

When making your donation, please leave some type of identifiable information or send us a message on twitter or email to confirm your identity. We will keep all information private and only use it for the purposes of getting your gift to you.


The ALS Association organizes walks all over the United States and there’s most likely one near you. If you’re interested in starting your own fundraiser, please let us know via Twitter and we’ll be sure to help promote your efforts. We’ve also set up a reward on Carrot, a new app we’re using to support all of our missions at Bitcoin Magazine, and you can earn sats if your fundraiser reaches $100 in donations.

Our Hero Hal: A Brief History of Hal Finney and his Fight with ALS

As our latest piece of content about Finney, we’ve published an article by Aaron van Wirdum detailing his work on Reusable Proof of Work, “How Hal Finney’s Quest for Digital Cash Led to RPOW (and More).”  His article is the fifth installment of Bitcoin Magazine’s The Genesis Files series, which has covered the advancements that led to Bitcoin’s creation.  The previous articles in this series covered David Chaum’s eCash, Adam Back’s Hashcash, Wei Dai’s b-money and Nick Szabo’s Bit Gold

Finney’s dedication to his craft will always be an inspiration to people that value freedom, privacy and sovereignty. 

Disclosure: BTC Inc is the parent company of both Bitcoin Magazine and Carrot.