Originally formed as a joke, Dogecoin was created by IBM software engineer Billy Markus and Adobe software engineer Jackson Palmer. They wanted to create a peer-to-peer digital currency that could reach a broader demographic than Bitcoin. In addition, they wanted to distance it from the controversial history of other coins. Dogecoin was officially launched on December 6, 2013, and within the first 30 days, there were over a million visitors to Dogecoin.com.
Palmer is credited with making the idea a reality. At the time, he was a member of the Adobe Systems marketing department in Sydney. Palmer had purchased the domain Dogecoin.com and added a splash screen, which featured the coin's logo and scattered Comic Sans text. Markus reached out to Palmer after seeing the site, and started efforts to develop the currency. Markus had designed Dogecoin's protocol based on existing cryptocurrencies Luckycoin and Litecoin, which use scrypt technology in their proof-of-work algorithm. The use of scrypt means that miners cannot use SHA-256 bitcoin mining equipment, and instead must use dedicated FPGA and ASIC devices for mining which are known to be more complex to produce.
On December 19, 2013, Dogecoin jumped nearly 300% in value in 72 hours, rising from US$0.00026 to $0.00095, with a volume of billions of Dogecoins per day. This growth occurred during a time when bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies were reeling from China's decision to forbid Chinese banks from investing into the bitcoin economy. Three days later, Dogecoin experienced its first major crash by dropping by 80% due to this event and to large mining pools exploiting the small amount of computing power required at the time to mine Dogecoin.
On December 25, 2013, the first major theft of Dogecoin occurred when millions of coins were stolen during a hack on the online cryptocurrency wallet platform Dogewallet. The hacker gained access to the platform's filesystem and modified its send/receive page to send any and all coins to a static address. This hacking incident spiked tweets about Dogecoin, making it the most mentioned altcoin on Twitter at the time, although it was in reference to a negative event. To help those who lost funds on Dogewallet after its breach, the Dogecoin community started an initiative named "SaveDogemas" to help donate coins to those who had them stolen. Approximately one month later, enough money was donated to cover all of the coins that were stolen.
In January 2014, the trading volume of Dogecoin briefly surpassed that of Bitcoin and all other crypto-currencies combined. However, its market capitalization remained substantially behind that of Bitcoin. Initially, Dogecoin featured a randomized reward that is received for each mining block. However, in March 2014, this behaviour was later updated to a static block reward.