The Bitcoin community is full of colorful people – few more colorful than Hal Finney, the most prominent early developer whose identity is known. Finney, a PGP developer and noted cypherpunk activist, was one of the first people to begin to help building Bitcoin after the release of the original whitepaper.
The cypherpunk movement, despite its undeniably silly name, has proved prescient in recent years. The cypherpunk movement has been talking about surveillance, privacy, anonymity, and cryptography for decades now, topics that are breaking into the mainstream only now, after government abuses have already reached an astounding scale. Finney was at the forefront of that movement for his entire life.
Finney, sadly, contracted ALS in 2009. ALS is a degenerative condition of the nervous system that causes creeping paralysis, and, eventually, death. Finney succumbed earlier this year, and was rapidly cryopreserved by Alcor, in the hopes that eventually technology will advance to the point that it is possible to convert the information stored in his vitrified remains back into a healthy person. We can only hope that Finney’s cryonicist aspirations prove to be as prescient as his cypherpunk politics.
In the mean time, Hal’s wife, Fran, with the help of the Bitcoin Foundation, is running a charitable drive, called TEAMHAL, to collect Bitcoin donations to be donated to ALS research. TEAMHAL held a vote in December to determine which charity should receive the collected money, and Fran announced that a winner will be announced soon. You’ll be able to see the results on the linked page when they go up.