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[2014] The very first days of Monero mining - how it all started

I woke up on May 28th, 2014, on vacation with my family in the middle of the desert, to find a copy of my private source code plastered across the bitcointalk message board.  Announced as a "new optimized version" of the Monero currency miner, it was enthusiastically adopted by cryptocurrency miners across the world.  And in the process of doing so, my daily profit from the Monero Mining Project dropped by over five thousand dollars per day.

But let's start at the beginning, when I started getting in to a loose collaboration with three people I've never met---one whose name I'm not even confident I really know---with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of a nebulous new cryptocurrency at stake.

It started with a cryptic note from someone I'd met online, with a link to a message board discussion for a new currency called "bitmonero".  His note said only:

 "this looks interesting."

From prior collaborations with him, I knew he had a good nose for opportunities in cryptocurrencies.  Within an hour or two, he followed up noting:

"Regarding bitmonero it is profitable with aws with the wallet miner. Seem like some people have got optimised miner which is a few times faster as well so there obviously room for improvement..."

AWS, of course, was Amazon Web Services' spot market, which will let you cheaply rent mind-boggling amounts of compute power on short (1 hour) timescales.  AWS profitability is a key ingredient for making money on cryptocurrency mining, because it scales:  You can rent one machine or 10,000, and the only thing you have to worry about is if you start to use too many, the price will go up.

I was busy with the end of the semester and didn't respond quickly.  The next day, I had an email from him offering 1 Bitcoin (about $600) to develop a 5x faster miner, and from chat, we discussed splitting the profits after that 50/50.  I was still feeling overwhelmed with real work, but I took a brief look at ...

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