Erik Weijers, a year ago
In the early days of Bitcoin, there was a remarkable website that gave away Bitcoin for free: the Bitcoin faucet. All that visitors had to do was fill in a Captcha - after which they received 5 Bitcoin. Those were the days!
It sounds unbelievable nowadays. But in the first few years, handing out this new magic internet money was a way to get people educated. The technology was too complicated for almost everyone. Until early 2011, users had to run a complete so-called Bitcoin client to receive BTC. The client was a software package that gave you a Bitcoin node, allowed you to mine and gave you a BTC address. There were no crypto exchanges yet where you could pay with euros and have Bitcoin stored.
It prompted influential Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen to set up a website. In 2010, he bought 20,000 Bitcoin for fifty dollars and set up the first Bitcoin faucet. Handing out the Bitcoin on that website helped to jumpstart a network of users. That was important in making Bitcoin a success: network effect is everything in crypto. All visitors to the website had to do was fill in the captcha.
The principle of a faucet could and obviously can be applied to other crypto as well. For example, there are faucet sites for Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. Most crypto faucet websites automatically create a wallet for you that is capable of receiving very small amounts. The tasks you have to do as a visitor sometimes go a little beyond filling out a captcha but never much further. It should be easy and 'fun'.
Bitcoin and Crypto faucets still exist today, although the original faucet websites are long gone. You won't get rich from these: you have to click a lot of times for a few dimes worth of crypto. It has become a bit of a fishy business. The sites are full of commercials - which you are obliged to watch. Sometimes there is a gambling element incorporated into the 'task'. Often you have to create an account, so you have to leave an e-mail address. Sometimes you have to download a file to collect your reward, which is of course quite a risk.
It is not easy for the owners of the faucets either: they have to fight against bots that try to empty their faucet.
A post appeared on Reddit in January 2021 from someone who reported having found a file on his grandfather's old Dell. The file had the private key of a BTC address that contained 127 Bitcoin.
'In 2011 or 2012, I was still a kid and didn't have money to buy my favorite in-game coin Uridium. We had no idea what Bitcoin was, but we found out ways to get free Bitcoin through surveys, watching videos, and completing random online tasks. I managed to "earn" 127 Bitcoins by doing this but never ended up buying the Uridium.'
The website that the Reddit user is talking about must have been a Bitcoin faucet. He admits being f'ing happy never to have bought 'Uridium' with his Bitcoin. In 2021, the lucky guy or gal sold his 127 Bitcoin for about $4 million.
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