In memoriam ROOM77: a thread down memory lane from my time in Berlin during the early Bitcoin boom years.

Dedicated to the freedom of transaction, and chronicling my journey to blockchain eternity and beyond!
During 2011-2015, Berlin was a boom town for tech startups and the epicenter of the nascent Bitcoin juggernaut.

It was easy to find people willing to trade bitcoin privately for cash, and vice versa.

It all started at ROOM77, the "restaurant at the end of capitalism", the first brick-and-mortar establishment in the world to take bitcoin payments (since 2010).

ROOM77 entrance
I bought my first burger and beer with bitcoin at ROOM77 in November 2012. That evening's bill was several bitcoins.

Looks like I still ate the buns back then. Later, the staff would jokingly nickname me the "without-the-bun guy". I'm strange that way 🤷‍♂️

Now, to be fair, a lot people in Berlin are strange in various ways. It's one big strange attractor.

When you stepped foot into ROOM77, you knew it wasn't just another restaurant or bar. The posters, the coasters, the paraphernalia, the vibe.

A Casascius coin on top of "End the ECB" stickers
Every month, us strange Bitcoin people gathered at ROOM77 for the Bitcoin-Stammtisch.

These rambunctious evenings typically continued on long into the wee hours of the night, often past the official closing and even the second attempt at closing. Bitcoin-Stammtisch poster at ROOM77
Many of the people working in the Bitcoin ecosystem, and later Ethereum, were based in Berlin or visited frequently.

Everybody, at that point, was just another regular or another visitor at ROOM77.

Soon enough, Bitcoin enthusiasts from all the over world started to make the pilgrimage.

The influx of new people, and throngs of journalists from across the pond, went ballistic during 2013.

And then, ROOM77 wasn't the only place in Berlin that took bitcoin payments: the free press ROOM was enjoying nationally and internationally was certainly noticed.

In Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and beyond, I paid with bitcoin in many venues in Berlin.

2013 felt like the breakout year for Bitcoin, though it was less so in retrospect.

Bitcoin's valuation crossed the $100 milestone on April 1st, which still felt like a joke to most of the world. (Certainly to most of the journos covering the phenomenon.)

For perspective, BTC opened 2013 at $13, and hit $266 in April.

The rising tide lifted all boats, and by summer--despite a correction that followed the all-time high--ROOM77 patrons were in a jubilant mood. The bitcoin and the beer flowed.

Even dust was suddenly valuable, so everybody certainly vacuumed their pockets for any dust.

That $100 in dust I found, and presumably spent? That'd be worth some $6,000 now.

People flocked to Berlin, not only because of Bitcoin. The San Francisco to Berlin route was a particularly actively traveled one.

When I had visitors, I usually took them to ROOM77. It was a lot of beers and burgers for me that year 🍺🍔

My own favorite burger at ROOM77 was quickly established as the Triple Bypass Burger, and I ordered nothing else since.

750g of ground beef, yummy potato wedges, and hold the bun. I do miss the Triple Bypass, and my memories of ROOM are flavored as such.

For me, the main lesson from these heydays in Berlin was understanding the importance of my local social circle.

I didn't have that prior to Berlin, and I don't think it's to be found in much smaller places than that.

Network effects rule the world.

Did I mention I loved the Triple Bypass Burger?

Really, I was a big fan of the Triple Bypass Burger. ❤️🍔

The Stammtisch was a welcoming meetup. So many noobs installed their first Bitcoin wallet and received/sent their first transactions there.

Joerg gave generously of his time and help to newcomers, though he increasingly got tied up by the journalists swarming the place. The bar counter at ROOM77
Also frequently seen and traded were the beautiful Casascius coins, each (typically) worth one bitcoin.

I must have given away 20+ of these, doling them out like candy in the interests of onboarding.

In hindsight, that may have been overly generous.

Those of you who received a Casascius coin from me and didn't thank me yet, you're welcome 😎

That said, most of the coins have, of course, been misplaced.

Giving bitcoin as a gift fared exceptionally poorly in the early years. Inevitably the funds were lost by the recipient.
I know of someone who threw away their Casascius thinking it a worthless chocolate coin marketing gimmick.

My own younger brother lost his birthday gift that would have paid for college. C'est la vie. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
You may be wondering why there are scarcely any photos of people in this thread.

Well, unsurprisingly, a lot of the crowd at ROOM77 cared about their privacy more than average.

So, I don't myself have a lot of photos of people.

I would be remiss to not include Joerg himself, though.

I know he doesn't consider himself old, but I've always considered him the grand old man of Bitcoin.

He set out to change the narrative around Bitcoin, and did. We are all reaping the rewards.

It's remarkable how large ROOM77 looms in my memory, considering how tiny the space was physically.

It was usually crammed to the brink and we spilled into the street in every meetup since 2013.
All things in life must end. ROOM77 lives on now in memory and in legend.

ROOM77 more than fulfilled the mission Joerg set for it. There's no reason to be sad--unless you never visited, perhaps.

But I will sure miss the Triple Bypass Burgers.… ROOM77's closure notice

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Arto Bendiken

Arto Bendiken Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @bendiken

24 May
@thefrankbraun @jb55 Go without all the tooling would be 'meh' as a programming language. With the tooling--until recently unique--it was possible to put up with how primitive and imperative the language itself is and yet still get shit done.
@thefrankbraun @jb55 That is, the productivity advantage from solving incidental complications in package management, build systems, cross-compilation, and deployment--not to mention social aspects of programming, such as coding conventions--outweighed the productivity loss from the language itself.
@thefrankbraun @jb55 Of course, those migrating from C to Go didn't exactly feel that productivity loss. You can't get much more primitive and imperative than C. (Hello, @thefrankbraun.)
Read 11 tweets
26 Feb
I really must tweet more screen caps from @johnmbarry's epic The Great Influenza. There is truly nothing new under the sun: "It's just the grippe!" [flu!] and "There is nothing to fear but fear itself!"
A century ago, it was also just the flu, bro. #COVID19 Image
A century ago, authority bias was deadly. #COVID19 Image
Read 9 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!