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My Crypto Story — Part 3

Bitcoin coins

Bought a used laptop with bitcoin.

So now that I owned some bitcoin, my intention was to figure out how to buy something locally, like a sandwich or cup of coffee. Unfortunately, at the time there was no place around my town that accepted bitcoin; at least I sure couldn’t find one. Eventually I did find the owner of a local computer repair shop that was very involved with crypto. We talked on the phone for over an hour and I asked him lots of questions. One of which was, “where can I buy something with bitcoin?”. He quietly said he could sell me a used laptop for 1 bitcoin. Really! Like a little kid who just got offered their favorite ice cream, I got very excited! Finally, I would get to buy something with bitcoin and see my transaction in the Bitcoin blockchain. I didn’t really need another laptop, but for $250, I said OK to my experiment!

I know it must sound funny, but I was all smiles when I met him at his dusty, disorganized workshop. We talked about the crypto revolution while I picked out a used HP laptop. I left, then he fixed it up, installed Windows 10, and met me at my office a few days later. To make the exchange of one used laptop for one bitcoin, I logged into my Coinbase account. We saw that the price had dropped to about $225, but he shrugged it off and said that was ok. He proceeded to instruct me on how to send him a coin. He told me to just type his email address in the SEND box, then in the QUANITY field to enter one bitcoin. I did as he instructed, then clicked OK. He said that was it! You just sent your first bitcoin. But wait. Something didn’t seem right. The steps I just completed with him were not what I expected.

From all the research I’d done, I expected to input his public key address into the SEND box, not his email address. I knew the public key address was the location on the blockchain ledger that holds a person’s bitcoins and I would need this address to send bitcoin to him. As an analogy, if you want to send your friend a birthday card, you will need their house address. Without the house address, there’s no way for the Postal Service to deliver your card. Why was I able to send him bitcoin without him giving me his public address?

He explained, because we both had a Coinbase account I didn’t have to input his public address. It’s because of the way Coinbase manages people’s wallets/accounts. Coinbase keeps track of each account holder’s public key addresses and private key addresses on their servers and associates them with the account holder’s username and email. So, in essence I did send a bitcoin to his public address, but somewhat indirectly. I sent it to his email address which was associated with his public address. I was so bummed!! I wanted to get his public address, so I could look it up on the blockchain and see the transaction we just completed! And because I sent a bitcoin to another Coinbase user via his email address, I wasn’t able to see my public key address. (Note: Remember this was back in 2015 and since then Coinbase has gotten better about making the public addresses viewable.) It wasn’t until late 2017 when the price of bitcoin shot up to almost $20,000 that I began to understand what exactly transpired in that innocent purchase of a used laptop for one bitcoin.

After the laptop trade I bought a couple more bitcoins in 2015 giving me a total of just over three. I was still looking to make a bitcoin purchase so that I could see the transaction registered on the Blockchain ledger. I got another opportunity in September 2015. I found out about a new online information service for investors called Real Vision TV that accepted bitcoin payments for the annual subscription price of $200 which was just under one bitcoin; about 0.83 bitcoin. I was more nervous than excited about this opportunity. I placed my order and sure enough there was a problem. The order didn’t go through at Real Vision TV because I had sent them just under the price of the subscription. I sent exactly $200 worth of bitcoin to their wallet address but hadn’t accounted for the miner fee, so their system rejected the order because they received a little less than $200. I decided to just have them refund my bitcoin and I paid them with a credit card. I didn’t know it at the time, but getting my bitcoin refunded was the BEST possible solution for that situation, because the price eventually went up to a new all-time high and I sold it for a profit.

So, I considered my purchase attempt a success because I finally got to see my bitcoin transaction on the blockchain. I’m sharing my bitcoin wallet’s public key address I used for that purchase, so you can see the transaction too. To view it, the bitcoin address must be entered into a blockchain explorer. One of the Bitcoin blockchain explorers I like is by Blockcypher.

Here’s how you find my transaction.

1) Type the following url into any browser: https://live.blockcypher.com/

2) You’ll see a screen that looks like this.

3) In the white search box copy and paste the following public key address then click search. 1BojHiitDL8uzAdNh6r93H7rmLn1TTm6gN

4) After you click SEARCH, the following screen will appear which says this wallet started with an amount of 0.8378 bitcoin then was instructed to send the same amount to someone else and now has a zero balance.

5) In this screenshot below, you can see the bitcoin address where I sent my payment. (Note, I haven’t shown the transaction for the refund. A different wallet address was used.)

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…to be continued (see part 4)

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