genesis block in blockchain

“Genesis block” is a common term in the literature of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. It was created with the creation of Bitcoin, but is also being used for other blockchain networks. Do you know what a genesis block is? If your answer is no, then stay with us up to the end of this article.

What is genesis block?

The term “genesis block” is used to refer to the first block of a blockchain. The other names for the genesis block are “block 0” and “block 1”. The word “genesis” means origin, emergence, and creation. It is more frequently used in scientific and religious contexts, and blockchain has also borrowed it to talk about the very first block of every blockchain.

In blockchain networks, each block refers back to the previous block. More accurately, each block contains the hash of the previous block. But, since no blocks exist before a genesis block, this block does not refer to or contain the hash of any other blocks. Unlike all other blocks, the genesis block is hard-coded by the developer.

We mentioned that the concept of genesis block entered the world of technology after the creation of Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s anonymous developer, was the first person who used this term. So, we’d better take a look at Bitcoin’s genesis block as an example.

Bitcoin’s genesis block

Bitcoin’s genesis block was created on January 3, 2009. You may know that each block in the blockchain has a certain hash. This hash is the unique encryption of that block, that refers only and only to that block. The hash of Bitcoin’s genesis block is as follows:

000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f

This hash is easily distinguishable from the hash of other initial blocks since it has two extra zeroes at the beginning. An interesting feature of Bitcoin’s genesis block is that it contained a message. The message encrypted in Bitcoin’s genesis block was:

“The Times 3/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”

This was one of The Time’s headlines on January 3, 2009. Most experts believed that encrypting this message had two functions:

  • First, it acted as a timestamp, and proved that the block wasn’t created before January 3,2009;
  • Second, it was a criticism of the traditional centralized financial systems and their policies.

Another interesting feature of Bitcoin’s genesis block is its religion-related signs. The word “genesis” usually refers to the creation of the universe. That Satoshi has used this name for his/her first block may have certain implications. Or, Bitcoin’s second block was created 6 days after the genesis block. Some believe that this 6-day break refers to Bible’s story of creation of the world in 6 days.

Conclusion

Now you know that genesis block refers to the first block of every blockchain. Whether Satoshi had any other aims or implications by choosing this name or not, genesis block is now a technical term belonging to the world of blockchain. This block has some differences with other blocks, including being hard-coded by the developer, and not referring to any previous block.