With no exchanges, P2P marketplaces, or escrow services in Bitcoin’s earliest days, acquiring coins wasn’t easy. You either mined them or begged someone on the Bitcointalk forum to sell to you OTC. Then, along came a developer called Gavin Andresen who created a faucet that allowed anyone to claim free BTC.
Also read: Bitcoin History Part 1: In the Beginning
How Gavin Andresen Turned on the Tap for Bitcoin
“For my first Bitcoin coding project, I decided to do something that sounds really dumb,” wrote Gavin Andresen. “I created a website that gives away bitcoins.” It was June 2010 and, in an era when obtaining BTC wasn’t easy, Andresen’s idea proved to be very smart. For the nascent cryptocurrency community to grow, it was essential that bitcoin be distributed as widely as possible. Only through having skin in the game, and sending and receiving BTC, would it be possible for people to understand Bitcoin and for it to grow from an idea into a global phenomenon.
Bitcoin faucets were the original airdrops, and Andresen’s was the first faucet. To begin with, it dispensed 5 BTC per visitor, each of whom was required to do nothing more than complete a captcha. The notion of receiving a king’s ransom in BTC for little more than visiting a webpage seems outlandish today, but back then, 5 BTC was worthless in dollar terms. “It only gives 5 coins [a day],” complained the second forum user to reply to Andersen’s post (the first was bitcoin pizza guy Laszlo). Satoshi was impressed though, enthusing:
Excellent choice of a first project, nice work. I had planned to do this exact thing if someone else didn’t do it,