Bitcoin: Where to start?

I think that the first thing anyone should read when entering into the rabbit hole of Bitcoin is Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper.

Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System – 2008

The anonymous creator of Bitcoin published this paper to express his vision of Bitcoin. It was released to a small mailing list of cryptographic enthusiasts and from there on in Bitcoin has gone from strength to strength.

Perhaps the timing of the release of this paper is an interesting factor in bitcoin’s growth. Post 2008 the world was in a period of shock and trust in the financial services industry was at an all time low. Satoshi’s vision for an alternative payment system which relies on a distributed ledger  of trust aims to solve this.

The paper itself is fairly technical, as you would expect from a white paper, but it is an important read nonetheless. Reading the paper helps make you realise how much more than a  currency this is. It is a decentralised system to facilitate electronic transactions. This, coupled with his statistical analysis on the strength of the p2p proof-of-work feature should be the basis for any reading on the matter. I think upon reading the paper it is difficult not to take the view of many bitcoin evangelists; it is not the price that matters. It is the technology and size of the network that is important. Newspapers and media like to focus on the price volatility because it seems spectacular. but the real metric that makes Bitcoin successful is the number of users.

Satoshi himself has a wallet balance of around one million bitcoin (so around $3o0 million at today’s prices), but has never touched it. In fact, he hasn’t been seen or heard from since mid- 2010. Perhaps he will be back when Bitcoin hits $10000, perhaps he is gone for good. But this whitepaper has made more of a mark on the future of money and technology than any other paper written.

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