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Bitcoin

A significant digital currency, divided into 100 million units called satoshis, created by the pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto, first described by the creator(s) in 2008, broadly as an anonymous, peer-to-peer, electronic payments system. The Bitcoin currency is increasingly traded and as treated as seriously as conventional fiat (national or state-issued) currencies by the world's major financial merchants and institutions. The Bitcoin currency is scheduled to attain a finite total volume. It is 'mined' using a time-linked computerised generation process, via linked mutually/self-protecting computer servers including equipment belonging to 'members' who in return receive payment in Bitcoins in return for the use of computer processing power. The Bitcoin is part of the future of money perhaps, which does not rely on state or federal constitution, operating instead peer-to-peer (rather than through an institutional issuer), and instead relying on computing and internet or equivalent means of administration and connection. The Bitcoin name is a pun or double-meaning alluding to computing and coinage, i.e., a bit in computing is a single unit of data expressed as either 0 or 1 in binary notation; and separately a bit is a very old slang word for a coin (see bit coin slang). Reports following media investigations into and cross-linking encryption patents, Bitcoin white paper documentation, and registration of the bitcoin domain name, suggested the identity of the 'developer' to be three people, Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry, although each (at 2013) deny the assertion. Here's what the Bitcoin website says about the concept (at 2013):

"Bitcoin uses peer to peer technology to operate with no central authority; managing transactions and issuing Bitcoins are carried out collectively by the network. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment systems. The software is a community-driven free open source project, released under the MIT license."

(And the abstract from the explanatory white paper published by the developer): "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. - Satoshi Nakamoto - satoshin@gmx.com - www.bitcoin.org - Abstract. A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they'll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcast on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of what happened while they were gone."

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