What is ‘Bitcoin’?
Well, the dry facts are that it was created in 2009 by one Satoshi Nakamoto whose identity currently remain anonymous. The main attraction of Bitcoin is the opportunity to incur lower fees on transactions relative to the conventional payment methods found online.
In addition to that, it operates under a decentralized authority. That is of course in contrast to government-based currencies. In any case, it is an idea that has now accumulated a market cap that is well over $7 billion.
And we still do not know the person or persons who came up with it. Strange times indeed.
We realize of course that we have eluded the question asked at the very beginning: What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a digital currency. It is, therefore, also a non-physical entity of which balances are retained in a public ledger in the cloud which also records every Bitcoin transaction.
Bitcoins are independent of any involvement from banks or governmentsand they represent no value at all as a commodity. They deal almost exclusively in a whole other realm known asvirtual currencies. We refer to them categorically as Altcoins.
Getting a Grip on Bitcoin
Being a cryptocurrency, Bitcoin balances are kept with use of keys, both public and private. These refer to multiple long strings of numbers that are connected through the same mathematical encryption algorithm by which they were first created.
The public key is very much similar to a bank account number. It is the address to which anyone can send in bitcoins. The private key is the cryptocurrency equivalent of your ATM pin number. So it is a private detail that is used to authorize a bitcoin transmission on your part.
The Mechanics of Bitcoin
Bitcoin was among the first of the digital currencies to integrate peer-to-peer technology make payments virtually instant. “Miners” is the term given to the independent persons and companies that run the underlying computer systems and are also active participants in the network.
Their incentives are based on the release of new bitcoin and payments made in bitcoin. They are the so-called decentralized authority that is so characteristic of the bitcoin network and they keep network credible and valid.
Bitcoin mining explains the process by which bitcoins are released into circulation. The main objective is to solve the complex computational puzzle that would reveal a new block which will then be added to the blockchain and receive a few bitcoins in return.
In 2009, that reward was worth 50 bitcoins and it continues to decrease ever 4 years. With an ever-increasing number of bitcoins being added, the difficulty of the mining process also increases. Back in 2009, the difficulty commenced at 1.0. However, this year, it is north of some 4.24 billion. Naturally, this meant upgrading computing power from a standard desktop computer too way faster hardware such as Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), and more advanced processing units like Graphics Processing Units (GPUs).
What Is The Value Of A Bitcoin?
The bottom line is it is a lot. A single bitcoin today is worth well over a thousand US dollars which is exponential growth over last year when it was valued $770. The price of bitcoin is not correlated to the extent of the mining network. As for theprice of bitcoin increases in tandem with the cost of producing it. The mining network has thus far tripled its power in the past year or so.
Who On Earth Was Behind The Whole Thing?
For such a multi-billion dollar idea, you would expect to know a great deal about whoever came up with it in the first place. At least a detailed profile on the internet and the occasional public address to a group of college students or entrepreneurs or even a charity event?
But no, nothing more than aname that could refer to literally anyone has been attributed to such a world-changing idea. That name is the infamous Satoshi Nakamoto. It is thought to be the individual or group of individuals who released the first bitcoin white paper back in 2008 and developed the original computer software to support the network in 2009.
The bottom line is that this is now a highly lucrative enterprise that shows no signs of slowing down for the foreseeable future.