I’m Working on It!

What do Bitcoin, angel investors, and high-school algebra have in common?  Before I answer that question, I need to tell a story.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin

In 1995, I lived in Washington, D.C. At the time, Citibank was in the process of replacing its monochrome ASCII-only ATMs with spiffy new color bit-map machines. We users had to adjust to the new interface, including the conversational tone of the new software.  For example, instead of offering buttons labeled “Checking” and “Savings”, the machine would politely ask “From what account do you wish do withdraw money?”  And, while checking to see whether you had enough money in your account, the ATM would let you know it hadn’t forgotten you by saying “I’m working on it.”

Hilarity ensued one day while I was in line for the ATM.  The man in front of me was clearly in a hurry.  He requested his cash and shouted “Hurry up!” at the ATM.  The machine responded “I’m working on it.”  He interpreted the message not as a sincere expression of its desire to perform the requested task, but rather as a defensive response to his “Hurry up!”, and proceeded to harangue the machine as to how it should address valued customers.

The user interface mistake made by Citibank was that there was no progress bar.  In other words, there was no proof the machine really was working.

Which brings us to Bitcoin.

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