Cryptocurrency (or cryptocurrency) is a digital peer-to-peer (P2P) value transfer tool, secured by cryptography, its transaction register is recorded in a blockchain (ledger) . The purpose of a cryptocurrency is to allow a secure exchange of value between two parties, without the intervention of an intermediary. Historically, exchanges of values between humans are controlled by a so-called trusted authority, which ensures the smooth running of the transaction. Thanks to Bitcoin and then to the cryptocurrencies created afterwards, it is now possible to do without this intermediary.
What is a cryptocurrency? History and genesis of the idea of cryptocurrency
The cryptocurrencies we trade today, and in particular Bitcoin, are the result of decades of research , work and experimentation. At the base of all these reflections, we find an idea: freedom. With the beginnings of the Internet in the 80s, eminent computer engineers realized the power of this new means of communication. They quickly anticipate that it can be watched closely. They therefore believe that it is necessary to build solutions that protect the exchanges between two individuals, to protect their freedoms .
This is how several computer scientists and cryptographers with libertarian ideals get together, first informally, then in a more organized way, always on the Internet. This group of eminent researchers is called ” cypherpunks ” and was born on the West Coast of the United States, near San Francisco.
They exchange in particular via a “ mailing list ” which can act as an ancestor of the internet forums that we know. This discussion space allowed anonymous exchanges that participated in the dissemination of ideas and concepts, as well as the sharing of fundamental cryptographic work. These works shaped the cryptography community and paved the way for its heirs.
Digicash and b-money, cryptocurrencies before cryptocurrency.
Among the pioneers we find DigiCash developed by David Chaum (1989) and Wei Dai’s b-money (1998), which was intended to be a “ distributed and anonymous electronic payment system ”; this b-money was itself based on the HashCash developed a year earlier by Adam Back (now CEO of Blockstream). We have here the ancestor of the proof of work that Bitcoin has been using since its launch in 2009.
Several cryptocurrencies therefore existed before Bitcoin . Unfortunately, they had shortcomings or limitations that never allowed them to reach a sufficient critical mass to impose themselves on the rest of the world.
The company behind DigiCash, for example, went out of business in 1998, due to a lack of users , just a few years before the hyper democratization of the internet, which was soon to come to every home. Westerners. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency experiment to have managed to achieve such a network effect (which is its primary strength).
The historical case of bitcoin
Bitcoin is today the most capitalized cryptocurrency in the market and is recognized as the first crypto, the most resilient asset in the sector. Appeared in 2009 under the impetus of Satoshi Nakamoto , this crypto-currency is actually the fruit of several decades of cryptographic work and research.
The technology of securing data through a blockchain was not born with Bitcoin and modern crypto-assets. The first studies on this subject date from the 1990s (Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta).
Many cryptocurrency projects have emerged since this period, led by cypherpunks . None of them has managed to build a system secure enough to be able to replace banks and traditional trusted intermediaries. Until Satashi Nakamoto and his Bitcoin protocol.
The open-source revolution brought about by Nakamoto is largely based on solving the double-spending problem . During an online exchange, without a trusted intermediary between the two parties carrying out a transaction, it is necessary to ensure that:
All without a bank or central institution to ensure the transfer and protection of assets. The properties of the blockchain combined with the Nakamoto protocol have enabled the emergence of Bitcoin, a decentralized, reliable and resilient cryptocurrency network.