Harold Thomas Finney II (May 4, 1956 – August 28, 2014) was a developer for , and was the second developer hired after Phil Zimmermann. In his early career, he was credited as lead developer on several console games. He also was an early bitcoin user and received the first bitcoin transaction from bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
Early life and education
Finney was born in , in 1956. He went on to attend the , graduating with a BS in engineering in 1981.
After graduation from Caltech, he went to work in the computer gaming field for a company that developed video games such as , , and Space Attack. He later went to work for the with whom he remained until his retirement in 2011. During the early 1990s, in addition to being a regular poster on the cypherpunks listserv, Finney ran two . Further cryptographic activism included running a (successful) contest to break the used.
Finney was a cypherpunk and said:
He was an early bitcoin user and received the first bitcoin transaction from bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Finney lived in the same town for 10 years that Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto lived, adding to speculation that he may have been Bitcoin’s creator. Finney denied that he was Satoshi Nakamoto.
In March 2013, Finney posted on a bitcoin forum BitcoinTalk that he was essentially paralyzed, but continued to program. He continued to program until his death; he was working on experimental software called bcflick, which uses to strengthen bitcoin wallets.
During the last year of his life, the Finneys received anonymous calls demanding an extortion fee of 1,000 bitcoin. They became victims of — a hoax “where the perpetrator calls up emergency dispatch using a spoofed telephone number and pretends to have committed a heinous crime in the hopes of provoking an armed police response to the victim’s home”.
Private life, illness
In October 2009, Finney announced in an essay on the blog that he had been diagnosed with (ALS) in August 2009. Prior to his illness, Finney had been an active runner. Finney and his wife Fran Finney raised money for ALS research with the .
Hal Finney was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in August 2009. His bitcoins (which he mined in early 2009) were spent on medical bills as his ALS progressed in 2013. He made arrangements with Alcor Life Extension Foundation to be cryopreserved upon being declared legally dead.
Hal Finney died in Phoenix August 28, 2014 and was by the .