What is Bitcoin?
What is Bitcoin, the technology?
Bitcoin was originally released in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto as a piece of software and a paper describing how it works. Because Bitcoin is fundamentally software, anybody can run it on their computer, and therefore participate in a global economy.
One of the most important elements of Bitcoin is the blockchain, which tracks who owns what, similar to how a bank tracks assets. What sets the Bitcoin blockchain apart from a bank’s ledger is that it is distributed, meaning anyone can view it. Since Bitcoin is open, no company, country, or third party is in control of it, and anyone can participate.
What is bitcoin, the currency?
One can use bitcoins to purchase goods on the internet and in stores. The following are some unique properties of Bitcoin:
- Bitcoin is global: Bitcoins can be sent to someone across the world as easily as one can pass cash across the counter. Bitcoin isn’t closed on weekends and doesn’t impose any arbitrary limits.
- Bitcoin is irreversible: Bitcoin is like cash in that transactions cannot be reversed by the sender. In comparison, credit card, popular online payment systems, and banking transactions can be reversed after the payment has been made – sometimes months after the initial transaction.
- Bitcoin is private: When paying with bitcoins, there are no bank statements, and one need not provide unnecessary personal information to the merchant. Bitcoin transactions do not contain any identifying information other than the bitcoin addresses and amounts involved.
- Bitcoin is secure: Due to the cryptographic nature of the Bitcoin network, Bitcoin payments are fundamentally more secure than standard debit/credit card transactions. When making a Bitcoin payment, no sensitive information is required to be sent over the internet. There is very low risk of your financial information being compromised, or having your identity stolen.
- Bitcoin is open:Every transaction on the Bitcoin network is published publicly, without exception. This means there’s no room for manipulation of transactions, changing the money supply, or adjusting the rules mid-game. The software that constitutes the core of Bitcoin is free and open-source so anyone can review the code.
The basics for a new user
As a new user, you can get startedwith Bitcoin without understanding the technical details. Once you’ve installed a Bitcoin wallet on your computer or mobile phone, it will generate your first Bitcoin address and you can create more whenever you need one. You can disclose your addresses to your friends so that they can pay you or vice versa. In fact, this is pretty similar to how email works, except that Bitcoin addresses should be used only once.
Balances– block chain
The block chain is ashared public ledgeron which the entire Bitcoin network relies. All confirmed transactions are included in the block chain. It allows Bitcoin wallets to calculate their spendable balance so that new transactions can be verified thereby ensuring they’re actually owned by the spender. The integrity and the chronological order of the block chain are enforced with cryptography.
Transactions– private keys
A transaction isa transfer of value between Bitcoin walletsthat gets included in the block chain. Bitcoin wallets keep a secret piece of data called a private keyor seed, which is used to sign transactions, providing a mathematical proof that they have come from the owner of the wallet. The signature also prevents the transaction from being altered by anybody once it has been issued. All transactions are broadcast to the network and usually begin to be confirmed within 10-20 minutes, through a process called mining.
Mining is a distributed consensus systemthat is used toconfirmpending transactions by including them in the block chain. It enforces a chronological order in the block chain, protects the neutrality of the network, and allows different computers to agree on the state of the system. To be confirmed, transactions must be packed in ablockthat fits very strict cryptographic rules that will be verified by the network. These rules prevent previous blocks from being modified because doing so would invalidate all the subsequent blocks. Mining also creates the equivalent of a competitive lottery that prevents any individual from easily adding new blocks consecutively to the block chain. In this way, no group or individuals can control what is included in the block chain or replace parts of the block chain to roll back their own spends.
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