Learning Bitcoin and blockchain sounds too scary for newcomers. We agree that the learning curve is too steep initially. Whether you come with technical or non-technical background, one of the best way to learn about something is to understand the story behind it. And as always stories have characters, there are very important figures in Bitcoin World. Let’s learn about these genius minds and their works briefly in this article.
Satoshi is the creator of Bitcoin. He/she/they came into existence on 31st October 2008 and completely disappeared after 26th April 2011. This figure is anonymous and can be a group of programmers. Nobody knows even if this figure is alive or dead. So we can use a popular quotation to describe Satoshi as “He saw, he came, he conquered”:
“He saw” | Speculative | 1999-09-19 | Anonymous discusses core part of Bitcoin.
“He came” | Anonymous | 2008-10-31 | Satoshi emails Bitcoin White-paper
“He conquered” | Anonymous | 2009 onwards | Satoshi creates stable version of Bitcoin
Respecting Satoshi’s wish to remain anonymous, it’s best for us not to waste our time in searching the real identity.
However, it’s very important to know what was brewing in cryptography community from the past. The first major event happened between 1982 – 1997 led by David Chaum
David Chaum first proposed the concept of e-Cash in early 80s in a paper entitled “Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments”. He is considered as Godfather of Digital currency. To make this concept a real, he founded a company in Amsterdam called DigiCash in 1990 but the product did not take off and DigiCash went bankrupt by late 90s. However, these series of events brought many people into cryptography.
Next major event happened in 1997, when Adam Back invented hashcash.
Adam Back created Hashcash, a proof of work system which would eventually become a central part of Bitcoin. He was also in the mailing list to which Satoshi sent the Bitcoin White-paper but surprisingly he was not active during 2008-2013: the Satoshi-era. But he reappeared in 2013 and started discussion related to blockchain and bitcoin on bitcointalk.org. Along with core developer of bitcoin, he co-founded a company named Blockstream in 2015 which works on products related to bitcoin.
Wei Dai comes into picture with “b-money” in 1998; a cryptocurrency with proof of work system that uses CPU power to broadcast transaction in the network. However, he did not develop the working model.
In same year of 1998, Nick Szabzo proposed “bit gold” which needed no third party like central banks to authorize. He also did not develop the working model of “bit gold”.
Next major event happened in 1999, as mentioned earlier in “He saw” period where an anonymous person discussed core idea of eventual Bitcoin.
From 1999 to 2008, we can’t find anything worth mentioning here. Then in 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto released the White-Paper of Bitcoin. In the precursor of 2008, global economy was collapsing and governments were bailing out banks. This might have triggered Satoshi to come out and solve the financial problem world was facing. His Bitcoin was not just a concept of decentralized cryptocurrency by 2009, it was a real working product. And Hal Finney was running bitcoin core on 10th Jan, 2009.
Bitcoin’s first block also called “Genesis Block” happened in 3rd Jan, 2009. And on 12th Jan, 2009, Satoshi sent 10 Bitcoins to Hal Finney – the first bitcoin transaction in the history. Hal Finney was a notable programmer and cryptographer. He died in 2014.
In October 2009, New Liberty Standard published the first bitcoin exchange rate trading $1 for 1,309.03 BTC (that $1 would worth $12.3 million now). In May 2010, a programmer named Laszlo Hanyecz traded 10,000 BTC for 2 cheese pizza – which is considered the first real world transaction with bitcoin.
Greg Maxwell was one of the name in the mailing list of Bitcoin’s White-paper. He was at first skeptical of complete decentralization. But once he read the bitcoin code, he slowly started sending patches and he became the leader of bitcoin core. His background is related to Wikipedia and he has a lot of knowledge for decentralization. Now he is the CTO of Blockstream company working with Adam Back.
Do you want to add anyone to this list? Comment on this post.