A quick foreword before I start for those who aren’t informed about the Lightning Network. The Lightning Network is a ‘layer 2’ payment protocol that sits on top of Bitcoin. Designed to aid scalability and speed for Bitcoin transactions, it is currently still in a development stage, but is available for anybody to experiment with. There have already been some amazing concepts born from the lightning network, and it is certainly making the future of Bitcoin look even more hopeful and exciting.
On 19th January 2019, the notable Bitcoin enthusiast Hodlonaut Tweeted that he was to send 100,000 satoshis (0.00100000 BTC) to a Twitter user that he trusts. This was all to be done via the Lightning Network. “Fartface2000” replied to the tweet and was the first recipient of the lightning torch.
The torch soon started to grow interest from the community and each torchbearer passed the sats they received (plus 10,000 more) to a person they trusted on Twitter. This kept going on until a few weeks later, 31st January 2019. A Twitter user under the handle “edward_btc” decided to try and steal the torch by not passing it on. He said “I’ll seize it because I can, and no one can stop me. This is bitcoin”. Many users in the Bitcoin community protested this, and subsequently another torch was started by KlausLovgreen.
Eventually, after the torch had been passed to 192 people (including several big players in the Bitcoin community, such as Jack Dorsey, Wladimir van der Laan and Andreas Antonopulos) it was donated to Bitcoin Venezuela, a group dedicated to helping citizens in the hyper-inflated Venezuela get started using Bitcoin.
The lightning torch started as a social experiment, but quickly became a way to stress test an early implementation of the lightning network. It will go down as one of the first global, widespread uses of the Lightning Network.
Since the original lightning torch, there have been several adaptations, including the Tiny Torch, which was aptly named “The poor mans trust chain”, as it added 1 satoshi per torch pass, rather than 10,000 like the original.