Casey Rodarmor - Creator of Bitcoin Ordinals, Runes Protocol

20 Apr 2024

Casey Rodarmor is a Bitcoin developer, creator of Ordinals and most recently Runes Protocol. But Rodarmor is, above all, an artist.

Ethereum is a “Rube Goldberg machine” – unnecessarily complicated

Rodarmor was born in 1983 in California, USA in a family with an author mother and a father who is a former editor of PC World Magazine. He entered the technology field in 2010, and this place has become a territory for him to freely test his creative ideas.

Since his school days, Rodarmor has shown a unique personality. He attended a community college, and failed many classes but still graduated with a 4.0 GPA.
"I'm not the best student, but every time I want to drop out of school or fail a test, I always 'use tricks' to make sure they don't affect my score," Rodarmor said. “I kind of trapped them and successfully transferred to UC Berkeley.”

Rodarmor graduated with a Bachelor of Computer Science in December 2009. His subsequent path was also associated with computers.

He worked at Google as a web reliability engineer and was on the team responsible for managing data traffic. He joined Chaincode Labs later and worked on Bitcoin Core - the main code implementation of the Bitcoin network.
Next, Rodarmor became a co-host of SF Bitcoin BitDevs in San Francisco, a community that holds monthly meetups to discuss technical aspects of Bitcoin.

Rodarmor's position at the helm of San Francisco demonstrates his commitment to testing new ideas on the Bitcoin network. Bitcoin BitDevs are an important part of the underlying culture of Bitcoin.

Rodarmor started working full-time with Ordinals in 2022, but he learned about NFTs in 2017. However, at that time he wasn't really interested in digital art that could be created, bought and sold. Instead, he came up with the idea of establishing a digital art auction center, but only for a short time.
Several artists on Ethereum, notably “Art Blocks” creator Erick Calderon, have attracted Rodarmor's attention. He was inspired to work on an Ethereum smart contract using Solidity.

However, Rodarmor quickly became frustrated with the blockchain, describing it as a “Rube Goldberg machine” (a device designed to perform simple tasks in an indirect and unnecessarily complex fashion).

“I wrote an ERC-721 contract, which is kind of like an NFT contract on Ethereum. But when I wrote it, things were bad. Solidity's programming model is terrible, everything is unstable and extremely insecure compared to Bitcoin's building blocks," Rodarmor said.

Ordinals - inspiration from Satoshi Nakamoto

So he decided to create his own version on the Bitcoin network with Ordinals. “The idea behind this project was like 'Wow, wouldn't it be great if I could create and sell my own digital art'?”

Essentially, Ordinals introduces a method to number Satoshis (Bitcoin's smallest unit) sequentially, and then write data onto those Satoshis to create digital artifacts.

In fact, Rodarmor was directly inspired by Satoshi Nakamoto - the anonymous founder of Bitcoin. Nakamoto added references to something called “atoms” in Bitcoin's original codebase. And from here, the Ordinal theory was born.

For Rodarmor, Ordinals is a job "done for love". He used savings from previous jobs in the technology industry to develop the project. Although he received a tip in Bitcoin, Rodarmor is not sure if this will help him escape the situation of "scratching".

I'm the type of person that if I don't do something, I often feel sad and somewhat depressed. Going back to work makes me happy

Casey Rodarmor

Ordinals has been particularly successful. However, Rodarmor also received a lot of criticism on social networks from Bitcoiners who hate this protocol. Summer 2023, nearly half a year after Ordinals officially launched, Rodarmor felt like he needed a step back, but wasn't sure if he would return to this space or not.

However, only a short time later, in September 2023, he returned with plans to launch Runes Protocol.

‘If Runes fails, I will seppuku myself’

Runes Protocol is the protocol that provides the standard for issuing fungible tokens on the Bitcoin network. It is designed to solve complex problems in existing token protocols such as BRC-20. Runes uses the UTXO model, which simplifies the issuance, transfer, and burning of tokens in the Bitcoin ecosystem, as well as being compatible with the network's native structure.

Rodarmor wrote about the idea of creating Runes on his blog as follows:
“I'm not sure if creating a new fungible token protocol for Bitcoin is a good idea or not. 99.9% fungible tokens are scams and memes. But they don't seem to fade away that quickly... Creating a good fungible token protocol for Bitcoin could help bring the network significant revenue from transaction fees, interest from developers, and users ”.

This is similar to Rodarmor's opinion when creating Ordinals, which was to make Bitcoin "interesting again". With that, Rodarmor is a true Bitcoiner and no one can prove otherwise.
“Casey is the smartest Bitcoiner I have ever met. He knows everything about Bitcoin and has been obsessed with it for a decade,” said Erin Redwing, co-host of the podcast “Hell Money” founded by Rodarmor. “By the way, he would never talk about himself this way. He is very humble."

Runes Protocol will launch during the Bitcoin halving, expected to take place in mid-April this year. Rodarmor announced (perhaps mostly jokingly) on Twitter that within a month of Runes launch, if the market capitalization of the Runes ecosystem did not reach $1 billion, he would commit suicide. by ritual disembowelment in Japan, with the purpose of restoring honor).

The Ordinals and now the Runes have taken up all of Rodarmor's time. But he said that in the past he had also carried out similar exhausting projects. For example, about ten years ago, he began building a musical instrument that used capacitive sensors and a microcomputer - much like a Theremin.

“I got my hands dirty and did everything, like creating silicone pads with conductive fabric and using a laser cutter to create different metal shapes and molding rubber to make control surfaces…”, he said.

There was also a period when Rodarmor created visual elements for electronic music, with programming everything from scratch. Most recently, he has been dabbling in ceramics.

Rodarmor said he is especially attracted to art that serves a purpose. If art is purely "abstract", he finds it quite boring.

Although Rodarmor never pointed it out outright, it was clear to him that programming was an art form. Or at least it can be an artistic process. In fact, he described the "process" of sitting at a ceramic wheel to shape objects and programming to create visual effects that fascinate viewers.

“It's all about sitting down, writing an algorithm and tweaking it over and over again until you create something new,” Rodarmor said.

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