Codl & Hodl: A Bitcoiners Journey
Codl & Hodl: A Bitcoiners Journey

Codl & Hodl: A Bitcoiners Journey

Codl & Hodl: A Bitcoiners Journey

by Zachary @ Codl.Co 

My name’s Zach and I’m the founder of Codl.Co and the creator of the Punchplate. I was given this opportunity to tell my bitcoin journey so here it is! It’s been a long one and I couldn’t possibly include all the details but this is my best effort to recall my bitcoin journey thus far.

I’ve always been interested in technology but if I had to pinpoint where this all started I’d say it was after getting hyped about a new and arguably the best video game of all time, Diablo II. My friend’s parents had bought him a copy and we struggled to get it installed on his family’s antiquated computer. Seeing the options to play multiplayer and work together in the same game was such an exciting concept for me and I couldn’t wait to get a copy and play with him. Well, soon enough there I was, game installed on my computer, and there was that loading screen with the double doors, but those doors wouldn’t open. Instead I got an error about insufficient video memory. WTF is video memory and how do I change it was the first problem I encountered and long story short I was soon pigeonholed as one of the “kids that’s ‘good’ at computers” and I naturally assumed that role. 

Fast forward 8 years later, more into computers and software than ever, I was like many of my friends competing to have the latest and greatest PC hardware, but after going above and beyond I longed to put this power to good use. I found you could use your PC and pool together with others to help solve problems and ran Folding@home, SETI, and Boinc. I thought this was amazing, I can just let my computer run and it will crunch away… until my mother informed me of the significant power bills I had been ringing up. Naturally I wished I could have been paid to do it to help cover the power costs but of course none of them did. 

Then a funny thing happened: I stumbled across the bitcoin white paper. After reading through it I foundiIt was exactly what I was hoping for. I remember thinking “It’s about time!”. Not just that we had a new electronic cash but that we the people were taking back our power with code. I had long known of our economic enslavement via the Federal Reserve and how many had died trying to fight the system; there seemed to be no recourse and this was an arrow shot directly at them. A new money that was finite, stood up against not just our Central Bank, but anyone who would choose to mint money. When I went to download the bitcoin software I found that it didn’t yet exist. I searched and searched and I could only find other references to the white paper. I was a bit too early. 

Unfortunately, my mother suddenly became ill and eventually passed away. To make matters worse I lost most of my belongings (including computer) and was forced to either move to a new city with my father or couch surf as long as my friends would allow. Fortunately for me I had many wonderful friends. For months I was welcomed to crash on various friends’ couches or floors and provided showers and even transportation most times. They helped me get on my feet, and then working at the local computer shop I managed to get an apartment of my own.

After completing a new computer build, I wanted to put it to good use instead of just playing games like WOW with my spare time. I went to reinstall folding@home but remembered bitcoin and searched and this time found the bitcoin software! They had actually done it! In no time I had at least my CPU doing some work. However, my first experience with bitcoin wasn’t great. I couldn’t move the coins I had just mined and didn’t have anywhere to send them. I was then reminded about three weeks later by my elevated electricity bill that there was a real cost to mining and seeing how there was no value to them at the time, at some point I stopped mining.  I still kept my node running until I fell on hard times again and was forced to sell the computer to someone online.

Some time passed before I came across Max Kaiser talking about bitcoin and being a fan of his already, I immediately dove back in and spun up another node and began mining again… but this time I wasn’t finding blocks. The difficulty had already risen enough that over the course of two weeks I didn’t find a single block. People were using GPU’s now and mining as part of a pool and there were talks of ASICs being developed.

The timing is fuzzy but seeing bitcoin above $0.25 was amazing. It was actually worth something! I quickly realized I needed to get some more and seeing how I couldn’t just mine them I eventually purchased some through Mt. Gox. It was only about $150 total over the course of a month or two but I had some. I eventually withdrew them to something called Armory and unfortunately I didn’t set it up right or messed up the password because I could never unlock the wallet. This led me to procrastinating and leaving the rest of the money I could afford to lose at Mt. Gox as I continued to purchase bitcoin. Knowing I hadn’t spent that much money on bitcoin and being distracted by my daily struggles, I forgot about the remaining bitcoin and Mt. Gox all together. 

At some point I saw the news circulating of a bitcoin ‘competitor’, Litecoin. Well there I was again, but this time there was software to utilize my GPU to mine this altcoin, so I began to mine it and trade it for bitcoin. Sure enough, I was finding blocks again, it was working! At some point I saw the price of bitcoin skyrocket to $30 and me being a young adult living alone saw the new cash balance that my bitcoin was worth and I decided to sell it. It came while I was in-between jobs and wasn’t thinking long term. Of course I was still mining litecoin and then soon darkcoin and then it was an assortment of coins depending on the profitability. Some of these pools paid out directly in bitcoin no matter what coin you mined. At some point it hit me that all the time and money I had spent amounted to just a small fraction of the original bitcoin I had once had and this created a major mental roadblock for me. 

“Stay humble and stack sats” is something I had wished someone would have told me back in the day. I had already been ridiculed by a majority of the people I had introduced to bitcoin and I was told it wouldn’t work or that the government would shut it down, and by this point had suffered multiple losses so it was difficult for me to do just that. I had hopes that if bitcoin was successful, maybe one of these other coins would also ‘moon’ and I could buy back into bitcoin. But was I wrong and my bitcoin balance from all the shitcoins I was mining was now lower than ever. Sure, if timed just right I could have caught some of the pumps before they dumped but they were all just that, pump and dumps. I realized again what I had known for so long: that the rulers of this world do so by controlling the money and anyone who is trying to push a new coin is trying to do the same, trying to be the new rulers and this brought me back to realizing bitcoin is the only viable option.

I continued to GPU mine the shitcoins of course and at the time everyone I knew that was into bitcoin was doing the same. Purchasing a bitcoin ASIC led only to long waits if you ever got the ASIC at all, and by the time you put the time and energy into mining you seemed to always be in the red vs spending the same amount of money directly on purchasing bitcoin. Of course I still made that mistake every couple years.

Time went on and I met my wife and we were living in a small apartment in the city. I was working a Linux Systems Administration job but still scraping by. Bitcoin had recently hit a new all time high of close to $1000 and I was devastated. Knowing I could have everything I wanted if I had just had those original coins was a very real and painful experience. Instead I was working away for someone else and now barely able to afford just fractions of a coin at a time. The pull back to $200 was a huge relief; however, spending $200 for a full coin gave me pause as I was not used to seeing such a small amount of bitcoin for my average purchase. My wife, then girlfriend, at the time was not entirely convinced and seeing the price of this thing we were sacrificing to buy drop from close to $1000 made her and many of my friends shrug it off and some even declare it dead. “The bitcoin millionaire days are over” they seemingly all parroted.

I however was then more committed than ever. I was in love, and for the first time I could see having kids in my future. With every paycheck I bought bitcoin and stored it on a paper wallet generated on an offline computer with the amount and date and with a little note on it that read “To: Tiny Human” (an inside reference to when I met my wife) and it wasn’t long before we had saved up a whole coin for our future first born son who is now 7 years old! Of course I regret that once we got to a whole coin, I was so sure this would be enough long term that we stopped stacking for him and his siblings I wasn’t expecting him to have, although we did take all the birthday card checks from family over the years and purchased bitcoin with them and placed the keys back in the cards for them to find later. Some of those $25 cards are now worth much much more and we hope by the time they’re old enough it will be as if they received a new car or maybe even a house from their grandparents.

Life went on and all the while I had this urge to do more with bitcoin than just helping educate people or shit-post on twitter. I had tried to pour through the code and understand it and I was heavily involved with Lightning but had not really contributed anything besides helping educate people and just being a die-hard advocate for bitcoin. I eventually rediscovered Coinkite’s Coldcard and had purchased one of them as well as a seedplate and when I received the steel I was surprised by its size. I had already purchased nearly all the other steel backup solutions and seeing the simple steel plate, I had naturally thought that was the simplest and most durable but wasn’t exactly happy with it for a number of reasons. When punching in the squares there was a lot of wasted space, the squares all looked the same, it was hard for me to easily see where to mark, the lettering was very small, the plate was still larger than I had hoped, and it was pretty expensive. Despite these issues, there were some workarounds to the ease of use but I wanted to improve upon it. 

So there I was, messaging NVK to see if he had considered making a more compact version or even a multi part version. To my surprise he actually responded to me! He had reservations about a multi part version and what he had already seemed to satisfy his customers so he gracefully let me down but then it hit me, why can’t I make my own version? I had always wanted to start some sort of bitcoin business and bitcoin’s strength comes from its openness and freedom to innovate at the edges so I decided to go for it.

I got to work immediately trying to find a way to compress the words into a smaller package. I noticed simply cutting the grid in half would halve the width of the plate and I was hooked! I came up with many various grids and patterns, many of which haven’t been released. One of my first models was a split part version that was three “keys” with a tamper evident sealed steel ring that I quickly named the cold keys, as I hadn’t put much thought into a name. I decided to also make a card version and this is where our name came from. I returned to my computer after quickly saving one night and couldn’t find my new drawing the next morning. I had temporarily named it cold card as the multi part was named cold keys but when I finally found it, it was named “codl card”. So naturally I laughed and thought CodlKeys… Codl Co, and sure enough the domain Codl.Co was available!

It took hours of research, about 100 phone calls, and 50+ emails to find a place in the US that was capable of photochemically etching steel thicker than .030”. Many companies didn’t want to deal with me since I was looking for prototypes and only could afford maybe a few hundred pieces at a time and most were not even capable. Eventually I found the place though. Our first release, now available as the Classic Punchplate, had a split column grid that made the cells you mark clearly distinguishable from the rows next to it, making it much easier to punch and read. I sent a couple to Jameson Lopp which received all A’s!

Two years later and we’ve sold Punchplates to 46 countries and have fulfilled over a thousand orders! My oldest son helps me pack up orders and can even do it independently! We moved out of the city and now live on a small homestead outside of a small town, raising chickens and enjoying life and I wouldn’t trade this for all my past bitcoin.

I hope this helps everyone learn from my mistakes and stay humble and stack and also do whatever it is you think you can do but maybe haven’t executed yet. It’s probably a good idea, don’t listen to the haters and don’t let little things or even bigger things get in the way. Your first attempts might suck of course. I’m embarrassed by all my past mistakes and attempts that were put to shame by the next version but if you keep working at it you will smooth out all wrinkles and your product or service will get better and better. Also remember to take it easy, slow down and enjoy yourself along the way. Thank you for listening to my story and check out our Punchplates at Codl.Co!


Notes from Stackchain Magazine: No sats (or inferior forms of money) were exchanged for this article. This was not a paid advertisement for a product, nor did Zachary get paid buy us to write it. We just thought it would be dope to hear his story. Now that you’ve heard it maybe go to and check out his POW

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