Bitcoin is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. No one controls it. Bitcoins aren’t printed, like dollars or euros – they’re produced by people, and increasingly businesses, running computers all around the world, using software that solves mathematical problems.
The original Bitcoin code was designed by Satoshi Nakamoto under MIT open source credentials. In 2008 Nakamoto outlined the idea behind Bitcoin in his White Paper, which scientifically described how the cryptocurrency would function. Bitcoin is the first successful digital currency designed with trust in cryptography over central authorities. Satoshi left the Bitcoin code in the hands of developers and the community in 2010. Thus far hundreds of developers have added to the core code throughout the years.
Bitcoin mining is analogous to the mining of gold, but its digital form. The process involves specialized computers solving algorithmic equations or hash functions. These problems help miners to confirm blocks of transactions held within the network. Bitcoin mining provides a reward for miners by paying out in Bitcoin in turn the miners confirm transactions on the blockchain. Miners introduce new Bitcoin into the network and also secure the system with transaction confirmation. They are also rewarded network fees for when they harvest new coin and a time when the last bitcoin is found mining will continue.
This is a yet another controversial topic. Because of the freedom and the degree of anonymity that the use of Bitcoin offers, many users who were seeking to purchase or solicit illegal goods or services initially turned to the use of Bitcoin as a method of payment.
Again, when a user decides to use a specific type of software for their Bitcoin wallet, they are deciding what direction the Bitcoin network is heading towards. In other words, you need the cooperation of nearly every single user in order to modify any aspect of the Bitcoin protocol.
Participants in Bitcoin transactions are identified by public addresses – those are the long strings of around 30 characters you see in a person’s Bitcoin address, usually starting with the numerals ‘1’ or ‘3’. For every transaction, the sending and receiving addresses are publicly-viewable.
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