Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email

A little piece of Silk Road history

‘This could be it. This could be the killer application for bitcoin’ – Free Talk Live host, March 2011

Old School Silk Road... it came a long way
Old School Silk Road… it came a long way

Whilst researching the early days of Silk Road for my book, I came across a wonderful little piece of history: a radio show by Free Talk Live which ran a comprehensive piece on Silk Road on 17 March 2011 – around six weeks after Silk Road had launched and a good two-and-a-half months before Adrian Chen’s Gawker article. At the time, Silk Road had 151 registered users, 38 listings and 28 transactions to date. By the time it was shuttered in October 2013, it had just shy of a million registered users.

At around 48 minutes into the program, the hosts discuss Bitcoin, which they said, is worth “almost a buck”. One of the hosts says he started mining, but then figured it would take two years to generate 50 bitcoins – “not worth it”.

Then it moves on to Silk Road at about 58 minutes in. ‘I’ve come across something I think is really interesting… it can really make things interesting as far as Bitcoin is concerned, as far as the black market is concerned. And I’m talking about drugs,’ says one of the hosts. ‘One of the hallmarks of black markets is, unfortunately, crappy quality and crappy service. . . Service is unreliable at best and prices typically exorbitant. And there’s a lot of danger…What happens when the internet gets into black markets?’

A good twenty minutes of the program is dedicated to discussing Silk Road and they seemed to have a pretty solid handle on it. They bring up the potential for harm minimisation and crime reduction, and seem impressed by the potential for plausible deniability. But most of all, they look at how online black markets can reduce drug-related violence. ‘All kinds of violence surrounds the black market. One of the goals of us when we talk on Free Talk Live is to minimize the harm that is done’, they say.

Being a talkback show, they invited listeners to call in.

‘This sounds like a website set up by the CIA.’ said first caller, Larry. ‘They’re preying on us already through the internet and through Google’. But we sort of lost where Larry was going went into a rambling discussion about his daughter’s internet dating experiences.

‘Of course,’ the hosts said, ‘nobody knows who’s running the Silk Road’

Well they knew, sort of. Long before the moniker “Dread Pirate Roberts” was ever attached to the online black markets, a forum member called “silkroad” had been ethusiastically spruiking his new site on the Bitcoin forums.

‘Thanks for this awesome idea, silkroad,’ FTA host Ian wrote on the forum. ‘I am so impressed, I promoted it on my national radio program tonight. Hope you don’t mind the publicity’.

‘How cool!’ silkroad responded. ‘How big is your audience?’



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to my mailing list

… and receive an exclusive, FREE copy of a true crime story in ebook format.
You can unsubscribe anytime.

You may also like...

Ugly kids are cheaper – The Besa Files

Another story from the dark web “murder-for-hire” site hack. Read The Curious Case of Besa Mafia first. There are stories of people paying real money, verifiable through the blockchain, that have come out of the hack. Both targets and their would-be killers can be identified, so it’s only fair to leave those to the authorities for now. Meanwhile, in an epic

Read More »

Behind the Casefiles – Stephen Hilder

Blue Skies, Black Death This is another entry into my series of a behind-the-scenes look at the episodes I write for the podcast Casefile. These posts will explain how and why I choose each case and the research that goes into writing the stories. This post is about Episode 88 – Stephen Hilder. Best to listen to it before reading on,

Read More »

About this $1.2 billion crap…

I owe much of this post to the work of Nicolas Christin, the researcher who previously provided the analysis of Silk Road’s income. He is much cleverer than me or you. Give him a follow on @nc2y One of the most dramatic revelations to come out of the New York Criminal Complaint in relation to Ross Ulbricht, the alleged Dread

Read More »

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.