How can we visualize the rise of computing power on the bitcoin network? We need something more common in people's lives than hashing power. So, how about: hash? That's right, hashish. Lets go with it and see if the analogy helps. We'll look at the hash rate of the network and compare it to a smoking hash rate.
In 2009, bitcoin started smoking hash. It had a modest habit, 1 gram per week. Nobody would consider this to be a lot, maybe a joint or two one weekend night and a little touch here or there during the week before work.
Jan 2009 - 1 gram per week - 5 MH/sec
This went on for about a year, from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2010, at which point bitcoin started slowly smoking a bit more. By spring of 2010, bitcoin was still smoking modestly, but had picked up pace quite a bit puffing almost every day before work and also more frequently on weekends. By early summer bitcoin was smoking 4 or 5 grams a day.
June 2010 - 30 grams per week - 150 MH/sec
In July bitcoin met a friend named Artforz that taught him how to use a bong. This allowed bitcoin to seriously pick up the pace and start consuming a more generous portion of hashish. Bitcoin always shared with his friends who were more numerous now as well.
Sept 2010 - 600 grams per week - 3 GH/sec
At this point bitcoin was basically chain smoking hash all day, in joints and bongs. It might sound like a lot but this is really only about an eighth of an ounce per hour. Bitcoin was definitely a heavy smoker, but still didn't stand out too much from the crowd. It doesn't take that much talent to smoke an eighth in in a hour. However, this was only the beginning. Bitcoin continued to collect more bongs, and more smoking friends.
Jan. 2011 - 18kg per week - 100 GH/sec
At this point bitcoin was up to roughly a hundred grams per hour. Bitcoin was definitely high all the time, but still not up to the standards of some celebrities like Lil Wayne. Bitcoin was rolling up massive dubies and filling bongs nearly simultaneously, as well as using vacuums to "hot box" large rooms. However, this was still not enough hash for bitcoin's dome.
July 2011 - 1800kg per week - 10,000 GH/sec
At this point bitcoin reached a saturation. Bitcoin was now smoking 3 grams a second. Imagine this video every second or so. Bitcoin was the biggest supersmokeuter in the world by a very large margin at this point. For the moment, the dome was full. Bitcoin kept this up for a year or so, at which point a friend came over with a new toy: A sick oil rig. With this "a sick" rig, new amounts of hash could be consumed.
July 2013 - 18,000kg per week - 100 TH/sec
At this point bitcoin was smoking 30 grams a second. That sounds like a lot of hash doesn't it? Even Cheech and Chong would be impressed. But bitcoin found new ways to increase it's dome further, with better and better "a sick" oil rigs coming out, bitcoin always got the very best vaporizers. At this point bitcoin moved into the superdome and kept it hotboxed 24/7.
July 2014 - 100,000 kg per hour - 100 PH/sec
A hundred thousand kilos per hour is a lot of hash by anyone's standard. And it all started with a modest 1 gram per week habit. At this point bitcoin stood up and stretched and said "I'm not high at all". More oil rigs were ordered and new grow operations initiated.
July 2015 - 300,000 kg per hour - 300 PH/sec
That's about 85 kilos per second. Seriously puffing tough here, bitcoin was going through the total annual output of Afghanistan's famous black hashish in just a couple days or so.
June 2016 - 1.5 million kg per hour - 1.5 EH/sec
Bitcoin at this point is puffing a few grams every microsecond. Many planets of course are needed to supply this kind of cannabis habit. At this point every person on the planet is puffing with bitcoin. With 6 billion people, that's about a quarter gram per person per hour. No sleeping!
Lets recap: bitcoin went from rolling itself a few joints a week, to rolling itself and 6 billion people a few joints an hour.
Or as Bob Marley didn't say: "I smoke two joints, then I smoke two joints, then I smoke 2 billion more in a few seconds".
We could have just said bitcoin went from 1 MH/s to 1 EH/s. It's only 12 orders of magnitude. From one gram a week to one trillion grams a week. What's 12 orders of magnitude amongst friends?