If you think the stock market’s rise has been impressive, wait until you see how Bitcoin has performed.
Bitcoin’s rise has certainly been a remarkable one. In only 12 years, this cryptocurrency has gone from having no monetary value to surging above $60,000 for a brief period. And for investors who got in during the early days and have held on, the returns have been absolutely remarkable.
While we obviously can’t go back in time, it can be fun to look at the amount of money made by those with the foresight to get in on the ground floor of successful investments.
So here’s how much you would have if you had bought Bitcoin a decade ago, before most people had any idea what a cryptocurrency was.
The short answer
At the start of May 2011, Bitcoin was trading for approximately $3.50 (that isn’t a typo). So, $1,000 would have bought approximately 286 Bitcoins, not counting any transaction costs. As of April 27, 2021, Bitcoin trades for $54,680.
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That means 286 Bitcoins would be worth approximately $15.6 million today, assuming you held on to them for the past 10 years.
It’s important to mention that the last sentence is a big assumption. If you had been fortunate enough to dip into your savings and buy a bunch of Bitcoins at $3.50 each, would you have been tempted to sell when the price first spiked to $100? What about when it first broke through $1,000? Or the first time it eclipsed $10,000? Many investors who got in during the early years of Bitcoin ended up selling at least some of their positions on the way up.
A timeline of Bitcoin prices
Speaking of the major milestones Bitcoin has hit over the years, here’s a quick history of its prices.
- Bitcoin’s network came into existence in 2009 when the first block of Bitcoin was mined on Jan. 3. However, there was no monetary value or market for Bitcoin until at least 2010. In fact, in March 2010, an early adopter attempted to auction 10,000 Bitcoins for $50 (total), but couldn’t find a buyer.
- The first real-world Bitcoin transaction occurred in May 2010, where 10,000 Bitcoins were used to pay for two pizzas, valuing each Bitcoin at a fraction of a cent. Today, the value of this amount of Bitcoin would be nearly $550 million.
- Bitcoin first crossed the $1.00 threshold in February 2011, just over a decade ago.
- The first major surge in Bitcoin popularity occurred in 2013, with prices spiking as high as $1,242 in November of that year before retreating.
- The second major surge occurred in 2017. The cryptocurrency broke through its previous 2013 high of $1,242 in March, reaching as high as $19,783 in December of that year before retreating.
- After 2017, interest in Bitcoin fell for a considerable period of time. The price bottomed at $3,300 in December 2018 and didn’t break through its 2017 high again until November 2020.
- Bitcoin first crossed the $50,000 threshold in February 2021 and briefly broke through $60,000 in April.
Is $100,000 Bitcoin going to happen soon?
If there’s one key takeaway, it is that the digital currency has been very unpredictable. Bitcoin has seen two major peaks, not counting the current rise. And each time, it has retreated considerably and taken several years to eclipse the previous highs.
It’s entirely possible that we’ll see $100,000 Bitcoin in a matter of months or even sooner. But it’s important to realize that $10,000 or less is also very possible. If you decide to buy Bitcoin at the current price level, do so with its volatile and unpredictable nature in mind.