this blog asserts the story "Spondulix" by Paul Di Filippo in Sept 1995 issue of Science Fiction Age is possibly the first appearance of a digital-currency/bitcoin-like technology in science fiction. is that about right? are there others?

What was the 1st instance of digital currency in Sci-fi?

  • 3
    Ah yes, it wouldn't be a question from VZN without a link to their blog.
    – phantom42
    Apr 17, 2014 at 15:57
  • dont fear the blog(s)! & dont expect much hits from it either
    – vzn
    Apr 17, 2014 at 16:01
  • I would argue that this is distinct from the "credits" question if they were asking about "crypto-currency", which is a specific implementation to make the "money" un-counterfeitable and thus of value. That said, the question only references this sideways with "bitcoin-like".
    – FuzzyBoots
    Apr 18, 2014 at 11:30
  • I agree with @SeanDuggan, this is distinct -- a "credit" can be, and in at least one sci-fi universe I can think of, plus seemingly at least one reference in the answer to the "credits" question, is a physical form of currency. This question is asking about digital currency specifically, which could go by any name.
    – Kromey
    Apr 18, 2014 at 16:03

2 Answers 2


You can't necessarily tell if a scifi world has a "digital currency" or if everyone just happens to use credit/debit cards instead of paper money. The 1888 novel "Looking Backward 2000-1887" by Edward Bellamy is said to be the first instance of a debit card in scifi. Apparently there is no physical money in this world.


A credit corresponding to his share of the annual product of the nation is given to every citizen on the public books at the beginning of each year, and a credit card issued him with which he procures at the public storehouses, found in every community, whatever he desires whenever he desires it. This arrangement, you will see, totally obviates the necessity for business transactions of any sort between individuals and consumers. Perhaps you would like to see what our credit cards are like.

"You observe," he pursued as I was curiously examining the piece of pasteboard he gave me, "that this card is issued for a certain number of dollars. We have kept the old word, but not the substance. The term, as we use it, answers to no real thing, but merely serves as an algebraical symbol for comparing the values of products with one another. For this purpose they are all priced in dollars and cents, just as in your day. The value of what I procure on this card is checked off by the clerk, who pricks out of these tiers of squares the price of what I order."

Note that the punch-cards alluded to here was not a scifi prediction of early computers, but had already been a real-world technology for 150 years before the book was published [2,3].

[2] http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=682

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punch_card#History


The Great Simoleon Caper was published in spring of 1995.

In the story, the protagonist is an underemployed mathematician who resides in the house of his brother's family in Chicago. The brother, owner of an advertising agency, has won a large contract to create ads for "Simoleons", a form of non-governmental electronic "currency".

  • Your answer makes more sense in the context of cryptocurrencies because of the qualifier "non-governmental" (=decentralized?). Credit cards are centralized.
    – Geremia
    Jan 31, 2019 at 0:33

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