Happy birthday Bitcoin: What we can learn from its formative 10 years

A mysterious, anonymous entity known as Satoshi Nakamoto posted a white paper on October 31, 2008, entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. It was the first time the concept of Bitcoin entered the world. But outside of the cypherpunk mailing lists — those promoting the use of privacy-enhancing technology — this event was hardly noticed. Ten years on, who hasn’t at least heard of the cryptocurrency?

On just nine pages, the white paper explained how the Bitcoin system would work. Many attempts at electronic cash had already been made going right back to computer scientist David Chaum’s ‘Digicash’ developed in the 1980s. Using an intricate dance of cryptography, Digicash enabled people to pay each other online anonymously, yet prevented users from sending the same money to two different people at the same time (the so-called ‘double spending problem’).

For a while, Digicash caught on. Even the likes of Deutsche Bank adopted it, and a growing list of merchants started accepting it. Compared to the credit-based systems of Visa, Mastercard and later Paypal, at least some people could see the benefits of a currency that allowed micropayments with extremely low transactions fees. Anyone with libertarian tendencies loved the idea of using a currency outside the control of any authority. Read more

Jack Rogers - SmartCompany - 1 November 2018


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