At one point, Jeff Garzik was the third most prolific Bitcoin developer. Here we talk about his early days working on cryptocurrency and how science fiction can inspire the next generation of builders.
Few people have had as much influence on the Bitcoin source code as Jeff Garzik. At one point, his fingerprint on Bitcoin was the third largest after Satoshi Nakamoto and Gavin Andresen. However, in an interview with BeInCrypto, Garzik said it all started with science fiction.
Garzik was inspired by a book based on the board game Shadowrun, which featured a digital currency called Nuyen (pronounced New Yen). In the ’90s, this was a very strange concept. This was before Visa Debit and that sort of thing,” he said.
One scene in particular blew his mind and remains with him to this day. One character was paying another character with what, in modern terms, we call a flash drive. Although in the book he was known as “Credible”.
“Basically, I handed them this little little digital thing, and it turned around like a million dollars in a fantasy world, and it just blew me away. Decentralized digital currency — for me — made such an impression. I was convinced with 100% certainty that this was going to happen in my life “.
Finding Bitcoin for the first time
It wasn’t until July 2010 that Jeff stumbled across a post on Slashdot.org talking about Bitcoin. According to Garzik, this was also the first time Jeff McClab (of Mount Gox and Ripple) had read about it as well. “A number of Bitcoin developers and enthusiasts can trace their introduction to cryptocurrency to this link,” Garzik said.
At first, he was skeptical about decentralized goodwill, and its viability as a digital currency. However, Bitcoin was open source, and because the project was not being run by a known entity, Garzik was forced to look under the hood.
“Because Satoshi Nakamoto was anonymous, it forced me to look at the code and the architecture and convince myself he was real. He (Satoshi) wanted people to look at his work, not his personality and who he was. It was about what he built.”
From his early days as a software engineer, Garzik’s path to Bitcoin has run through Linux. (In addition to doing his friend’s computer science homework in exchange for a beer and pizza.)
“By the time we first interacted with Satoshi, he had been working on open source Linux for a decade. I was also well known in the open source community.”
Work with Satoshi
Garzik drew from this time as a Linux developer, writing software changes (or “patches”) and submitting them for review. His time as a Bitcoin developer started very similarly. Garzik would write a software change, test it, create a software patch, and email it to Satoshi. If it accepts it, it will be merged into the Subversion source code repository. (Basically, it’s where the Bitcoin software is stored and maintained.) For a time, Garzik became its third most prolific developer.
Garzik says he recognized a level of talent in Satoshi — who remains unknown to this day — compared to Linus Torvald, the inventor of the Linux Kernel operating system. It is also organized similarly as well. Linux and Bitcoin were both open source and run by a “benevolent dictator” who implemented potential updates.
“It’s not 20 people voting for a change. Satoshi accepts it or rejects it, and that’s how Linux has worked for the past 10 years. I got to know an effective system that I knew how to work with,” he said.
“In hindsight, Satoshi was also that kind of strong leader. But not strong in the way people might interpret it today, as if he was an idiot. He wasn’t that at all. But he was very clear and concise and focused on what he wanted. And if I make a correction he was In the area of what he wanted, it was easy. It wasn’t a bit of a gray area with him.”
From developer to producer
One of the reasons Garzik has gained such fame is his donation of 15,678 BTC to two fellow developers. 10,000 to one and 5,678 to the other – simply because it was a progression on the keyboard. Charitable work worth more than 450 million US dollars today. At the time, he thought $100 was great for Bitcoin, though he wasn’t sure it would go much further. Why did he abandon her? “It was a reward for the developer for building something very specific,” he explained.
After a few years of relative calm, Garzik once again entered the scene with his announcement NextCypher Productions, a web 3 production studio specializing in science fiction. He said that this type of film has inspired many to look forward and reimagine the future.
“I want to create some of this inspiring science fiction and hopefully inspire the next generation of NASA scientists and cryptocurrency developers to explore the limits of what is possible,” he added.
NextCypher plans to focus on long-form storytelling, with Garzik believing that modern long-running TV series can explore characters and storylines more deeply.
“Basically, the fans are only at the Web 2 end,” Garzik said, explaining why science fiction needed a Web3 studio. But he stressed that the fan experience would be “optional in coding.” “We view cryptocurrency and web3 as an accelerator, a differentiator, an additive that brings the community together. But you want to order it just to stream our TV show or read our graphic novel.”
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