Bitcoin and the Number Zero - A Brief History

By B18 | B18 | 18 Jun 2020

Let us start with a quote from Robert Breedlove.

Satoshi gave the world Bitcoin, a true “something for nothing.” His discovery of absolute scarcity for money is an unstoppable idea that is changing the world tremendously, just like its digital ancestor: the number zero.

Robert Breedlove is the founder and CEO of Parallax Digital, an event-driven hedge fund and digital consultancy.

The Lead Image "All Ideas Grow Out of Other Ideas" came from a tweet from Ledger @Ledger on March 27


(The link to @TheVladCostea story is in resources. Cover image is by @cjred)

In keeping with this theme of "All Ideas Grow Out of Other Ideas", an earlier post covered some of the pre-bitcoin e-currencies and their developers.

Early e-currencies That Lay the Foundation for the Development of Bitcoin

Robert Breedlove took this theme a step further with his post on Medium. Linking Bitcoin, the Roman Empire, The Church, ancient encryption and the number zero.

The Number Zero and Bitcoin

To be honest I had never really thought much about the number zero. So I found Robert's article and the interesting concepts within, very enlightening. But it was a very long read, all 39 minutes of it.

Below is my attempt at a brief summary of some of the key points, with some cool images. 

Bitcoin and Zero are Special

Bitcoin is not just one of the thousands of crypto assets that currently exist. The same way that the number zero is not just one of an infinite series of numbers. Bitcoin is special, and so is the number zero: each is an invention which led to a discovery that fundamentally reshaped its overarching system. For Bitcoin, that system is money. And for the number zero, it was mathematics. Since money and mathematics are two of mankind’s universal languages, both Bitcoin and the number zero are critical constructs for our modern civilisation.

In modern times, the number zero has become an essential element in our mathematical tool-kit. As the binary numerical system forms the foundation of modern computer programming, the number zero was essential to the development of digital tools like the personal computer, the internet, and ultimately Bitcoin itself. All the modern miracles made possible by digital technologies, can be traced back to the invention of the number zero by an ancient Indian mathematician.

Bitcoin's Ancestor The Number Zero - A Brief History

In the history of culture the discovery of zero will always stand out as one of the greatest single achievements of the human race.

Tobias Danzig - Number:The Language fo Science

For most of history, mankind had no concept of the number zero. No one goes shopping for zero apples. Zero is an abstract conception and is not visible in the physical world.


(The first known written zero)

In the 7th century, the Indian Bradmagupta developed terms for zero in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

As the discipline of mathematics matured in India, it was passed through trade networks eastward into China and westward into Islamic and Arabic cultures.

When the number zero reached Europe about 300 years later, it was met with strong ideological resistance from The Church. 

The number zero posed a major threat to the The Church's conception of a finite universe. 

A finite universe with the Earth at the centre was the central tenet of ancient Greek philosophy and, later of The Church.


The concept of the number zero was a serious problem for The Church which, after the fall of the Roman Empire, appeared as the dominant institution in Europe. Standing as a symbol for both the void and the infinite, the number zero was heretical to The Church.


(If you thought you were bad at arithmetic using numbers, just try doing it with letters.)

Despite the Hindu-Arabic numeral system superior utility for business, governments and The Church feared the number zero, as they were threatened by its existence.

In 1299, Florence banned the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. 

Roman numeral inefficiency would not be tolerated for long.

Italian merchants continued to use the zero-based numeral system, and even began using it to transmit encrypted messages. The number zero was absolutely necessary to these early encryption systems. Which is why the word cipher, which originally meant zero, came to mean “secret code.” The essential nature of zero to ancient encryption systems is yet another aspect of its contribution to Bitcoin’s ancestral heritage.


(The Algorists compete against the Abacists.  Contests like this proved the supremacy of a zero based numeral system over others, even when aided by ancient mathematical tools like the abacus.)

History Repeats Itself

The number zero arose in the world as an unstoppable idea because its time had come.

The number zero was instrumental in breaking the dominion of The Church.  Putting an end to its monopoly over access to knowledge and the gates to heaven. The resultant movement, the Separation of Church and State, set the individual firmly as the cornerstone of the state.

In the same way, Bitcoin and its underlying discovery of absolute scarcity for money, is an unstoppable idea whose time has come.

Bitcoin is challenging the hold central banks have on our financial sovereignty.  Bitcoin is invoking a new movement.  The Separation of Money from the State.

The End


I hope you found this post as interesting and informative, as I found Robert Breedlove's.  While I always enjoy doing the research and putting it all together. This project has been one of my more difficult posts to write, trying to condense all the original ideas and concepts into a brief and concise summary. Without losing the theme.
Feel free to post comments, as a publisher all feedback is greatly appreciated.
Or a thumbs up if you enjoyed your read.
Stay Safe



Support Your Local Blogger

tip, like, follow and use the referral links below

Brave Browser

If you are not already enjoying the benefits of using the Brave Browser on your laptop or mobile devices. 

Click on the Brave link to download and install the Brave Browser and start earning BAT (or just experience the speed and security of an ad free browser).

Free Tezos

Claim XTZ every 24 hours from the Global Hive Tezos Fountain.

Claim 0.01 Tezos every 7 days from the Tezos Foundation Faucet.

Free ZEN

Claim ZEN tokens every 20 hours from the Horizen Faucet

Atomic Wallet

Download the Atomic Wallet now for free

  • instant exchange
  • secure staking
  • multi-currency
  • buy crypto
  • 15 AWC welcome bonus

How do you rate this article?


B18 Verified Member

I am a sun sea and sand person, chocolatier, grows organic vegetables, rides a Vespa and collects crypto.


Bought our 1st pieces of BTC, July 2017. The process was daunting and confusing. Could easily given up & put it in the too hard basket or have fallen victim to one of the many scams or pitfalls. Grateful to a friend of my son's, who had been in this space for awhile, giving me some good advice & steering me in the right direction. That experience has helped shape my desire to share what I learn. Also always had a morbid fascination with Snake Oil Salesman & their sales pitch; Bitconnect, USI Tech..

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.