Similar to how the SHA256 hash competition exists to validate a transaction, I wonder if this concept can be ported to addresses, so that the first few characters is significant to a human reader.

  • Is there value in making a public key address start with human readable text?

  • What approaches exist to accomplish this? Must the key pair be re-generated continuously or there there space to place a nonce?

  • Could this cause legal issues? ...such as a key that contains text matching censored information which is replicated to countries that ban that information

1 Answer 1


Yes, the concept is known, and called "vanity address". The problem with it is that it takes a lot of computing power. However, there is also a "split-key" method of generating vanity addresses, which lets you commission other people for the computing work. And finally, I created a website called Vanity Pool that handles a sort of free market of vanity miners and buyers.

As for the legal issues, I have already included a so called "illegal number" in the block chain as a part of my master thesis. So far Bitcoin hasn't been banned;).

  • 1
    Yes, that part of the question was inspired from your master thesis. Great work, highly recommended reading! Sep 19, 2012 at 12:19

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