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Bitcoin's genesis block contains this text published at the New York Times on January 3rd, 2009:

The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks

According to the Bitcoin Wiki, this guarantees that the block was only created after this date.

What would be the problem of using any other random quote?

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3  
Not New York Times, just The Times (UK) –  Billy Moon Sep 27 '12 at 12:26

1 Answer 1

The newspaper quote proves that Satoshi did not mine a large number of blocks before the public announcement of Bitcoin on January 10. The block chain creator could for example create a chain of 1000 blocks before publishing just the first one. He now has a head start for mining and can invalidate the public block chain at any time by announcing the blocks he kept secret as long as his chain is longer. The block headers contain timestamps but these can be manipulated if no one else is verifying the blocks.

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4  
Much like a lot of other things in the protocol, ingenious. –  ripper234 Sep 9 '11 at 6:47
5  
It serves no purpose anymore. As soon as you pass the first checkpoint that includes blocks not all mined by the same party, this is no longer an issue. If you assume Satoshi mined 1,000,000 blocks, his block chain has to fork this block chain before the last checkpoint, so his block chain would not longer be considered valid. –  David Schwartz Sep 9 '11 at 7:55

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