First Lightning Network Transaction

When Was the First Lightning Network Transaction?

The first main net lightning network transaction occurred on May 10, 2017.

It was initiated by Blockstream developer Christian Decker.

christian decker lightning
Courtesy New York Times.

Interestingly, this transaction did not occur on bitcoin’s main chain. Instead, the transaction was performed on litecoin, a popular fork of bitcoin.

first lightning network transaction announced
Courtesy Blockstream.

This was common practice at the time since litecoin shared all of bitcoin’s source code, except for a few minor changes to target faster block times, and the total issuance of litecoin is four times that of bitcoin’s.

Because of this, bitcoin developers often test new tech on litecoin first.

Why is This Transaction Important?

Creating working layer 2’s (or “L2’s”) is crucial for scaling bitcoin so that more people can use the network without highly centralizing it to people who can afford to run prohibitively expensive nodes.

When Christian Decker made the first lightning network transaction, he proved that the lightning L2 could be used successfully on bitcoin.

What was even more exciting was that the transaction was for a mere 1.3 US cents, which would normally not be possible on bitcoin’s main chain because the fees would be too expensive.

Such an inexpensive transaction being economically feasible meant new kinds of transactions could now make sense in the bitcoin stack.