Finney was one of the biggest defenders and supporters of Bitcoin from its earliest days. He rose to the defense of the still incubating technology against fellow cryptologists who were convinced it would never work. Finney held the distinction of getting the first bitcoin ever transferred to anybody as a test from Satoshi Nakamoto (whoever that is).
He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in August 2009 and fought for years to continue to do what he loved: write code. From one of his last posts on the Bitcointalk forums titled “Bitcoin and Me,” he wrote,
“ALS is a disease that kills moter neurons [sic], which carry signals from the brain to the muscles. It causes first weakness, then gradually increasing paralysis.”
“Today, I am essentially paralyzed… I operate the computer using a commercial eyetracker system. It also has a speech synthesizer, so this is my voice now.”
“It has been an adjustment, but my life is not too bad. I can still read, listen to music, and watch TV and movies. I recently discovered that I can even write code. It’s very slow, probably 50 times slower than I was before. But I still love programming and it gives me goals.”
“That’s my story. I’m pretty lucky overall. Even with the ALS, my life is very satisfying.”
ALS is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The life expectancy of a person with ALS averages from 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis. ALS can strike anyone, and presently there is no known cause or cure.
The Bitcoin Magazine team is participating in the Nashville Chapter of the ALS Association’s virtual walk and fundraiser. From now until October 3, we’ll be remembering Hal’s legacy in different ways…