Pre Bitcoin Days

Crypto — Following the Path of Airplane Entertainment Systems?

Tron Black
4 min readDec 2, 2019


There are some parallels between the entertainment systems onboard commercial aircraft and the future of financial innovation. What!? Stay with me here.

In-flight movies started around 1961 with a projector showing a film for everyone. The state-of-the-art projection systems weren’t up to the task so some technical innovations were required to handle the film reels horizontally.

Eventually, there were ceiling-mounted screens, of the cathode ray tube (CRT) variety, installed into larger aircraft in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In this configuration, a few bulky screens were placed in the aisle where tall people would hit their heads and there was typically one movie available for east-bound flights and a different movie shown on westbound flights. Entertainment options were limited — like it or lump it. In my analogy with crypto, each flight is like its own country pre-Bitcoin. You use the currency of the realm and no other — like it or lump it.

In the late 80s, in-seat audio/video was introduced using small LCD screens. This was popular with passengers, and the beginning of distributed entertainment. Sure, it was a step backward in size, but it allowed more choice and was safer for the noggins of tall folks. This system was very popular and still exists on many planes today, but if you fly frequently, you’ll notice vast differences in aircraft entertainment systems. In fact, the technology evolved so rapidly you can date an airplane by its entertainment system. Some of the screens are small with very finicky uncalibrated touch-screens, while more modern aircraft have larger screens, and more choices — all centrally served. I’ll compare this to the Paypal, Venmo, era. You still only have the option of USD in the U.S. or the Yuan in China, but with better distribution.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the personal DVD player and laptops allowed bringing your own video entertainment selection with you. Not only could you choose from the airline’s selection, but also from any video (DVD) you chose to bring. You had to plan ahead. More choices and still individualized. This is comparable to the early Bitcoin era. If you planned ahead and were an early adopter of Bitcoin, you had another option beyond the sovereign currency. It wasn’t convenient, but you had an alternative.

In the late 2000s, another innovation was available. Anyone with an iPad or mobile phone could bring downloaded videos with them. This is the crypto era with the introduction of mobile wallets. Easier, and distributed but you needed to plan ahead.

And now, in the late 2010s, some aircraft are foregoing the in-seat systems in favor of providing free in-flight wi-fi entertainment with your personal device as the screen. This is today. Bank branches and ATMs are decreasing as mobile banking is the way to go. The analogy here is that you can be your own bank by using the same mobile device to store and transfer Bitcoin or thousands of other crypto-currencies.

I expect that soon airline entertainment will be a combination of onboard videos, live satellite feeds, and free wi-fi allowing full choice on your own device of Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+, etc. Why wouldn’t these competing streaming platforms pay for your wi-fi if you sign up for their streaming service? T-mobile does this already for messaging. This is where we’re headed. We will have many choices and fierce competition in in-flight entertainment.

How does this relate to crypto? Soon we will have similar competing forces offering nearly unlimited choice. For value, this includes Bitcoin, Ravencoin, Litecoin, and others. Lending and borrowing with Celsius and BlockFi. Custodial wallets like Coinbase and Gemini. Decentralized wallets like Exodus, Edge Wallet, and RVN Wallet. And even hybrid wallets like the tZero Wallet. Bridges between crypto and the existing financial systems like,, CoinZoom, and Vertbase. Centralized and decentralized exchanges will let you move effortlessly between these unlimited choices.

As technology progresses, we get more and more choices. In the case of airline entertainment, it became more personalized and more distributed. This technology-driven progression towards more choice and better distribution has been true for literature, news, magazines, music, online shopping, and movies. After Jan 3rd, 2009, the moment of Bitcoin’s first block, the expansion of choice, and improved distribution began for the creation and transfer of value, which will eventually include crypto-currencies, stable coins, central bank money, stocks, bonds, loans, dividends, gift-cards, subscriptions, transferrable programmatic promises, precious metals, wine, art, pre-paid tokens, and more. I believe this transition will be much quicker for crypto and for the movement of value than it was for airline entertainment innovation.



Tron Black

Freedom advocate, crypto developer, businessman, entrepreneur, and lead dev for Ravencoin — a top crypto-currency and asset issuance platform.