Hal Finney, Alcor member A-1436 who chose the whole-body option, was pronounced legally deceased on August 28, 2014 at 8:50 am at the age of 58, in Scottsdale, Arizona. That same day, Hal became Alcor’s 128th patient.
Hal, who has had cryopreservation arrangements with the Alcor Foundation for over 20 years, was Bitcoin’s earliest-ever adopter. He was the very first debugger and contributor to Bitcoin’s code and was the recipient of the first Bitcoin transaction in January 2009, receiving 10 bitcoins from Bitcoin’s possibly pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Prior to that, Hal was a lead developer on several console games; graduated from the California Institute of Technology with a BS in engineering; was a noted cryptographic activist, including running the first cryptographically based anonymous remailer; and in 2004 created the first reusable proof of work system before Bitcoin.
“Hal is a rare genius who never had to trade his emotional intelligence to get his intellectual gifts,” said Phil Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used email encryption software in the world. “He is a fine human being, an inspiration for his attitude toward life. I wish I could be like him.”
Hal was diagnosed with ALS five years ago and placed on Alcor’s Watch List and then monitored over the years as his disease process continued to advance. He made it clear that once he lost the ability to communicate, he did not want his vital functions supported any further but should be allowed to cease functioning and promptly be cryopreserved. “It was actually extremely reassuring as the reality of the diagnosis sunk in,” Hal wrote in 2009. “I was surprised, because I’ve always considered cryonics a long shot. But it turns out that in this kind of situation, it helps tremendously to have reasons for hope, and cryonics provides another avenue for a possibly favorable outcome.”
Hal’s long-stated wishes were to come to Scottsdale once he lost the ability to communicate with family and friends. When that time arrived, he was flown to Scottsdale by air ambulance with his wife, Fran, at his side. Hal and Fran Finney arrived in Scottsdale, Arizona on Tuesday August 26 where Hal was checked into ICU of a hospital near Alcor where the Alcor response team was set-up and waiting.
After the family had a chance to say their goodbyes, Hal’s ventilator was disconnected and he was allowed to breathe naturally, all while medical providers ensured that he had no conscious awareness of the process. Defying doctors’ expectations, he didn’t draw his final breath until 38 hours later, shortly before 9:00 am on Thursday August 28. Immediately after pronouncement of legal death, Alcor’s standby team went into action, restoring circulation, ventilation, administering an array of medications, and initiating external cooling. Cryoprotective perfusion — to eliminate ice formation — has been completed and Hal is now undergoing cool down to -196 degC for long term storage where he be cared for until the day when repair and revival may be possible.
Hal paid for his cryopreservation through a combination of life insurance and bitcoins donated by admirers. His wife, Fran, also has arrangements for cryopreservation. She is glad to have a chance to see him again sometime in the future when they may return in restored and rejuvenated bodies.