How did it all start?
Bitcoin was introduced to the public on November 1st, 2008 with an email from Satoshi Nakamoto to the firstname.lastname@example.org mailing list:
I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.
The paper is available at:
The main properties:
Double-spending is prevented with a peer-to-peer network.
No mint or other trusted parties.
Participants can be anonymous.
New coins are made from Hashcash style proof-of-work.
The proof-of-work for new coin generation also powers the network to prevent double-spending.
Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System
Abstract. A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without the burdens of going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted 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 honest nodes control the most CPU power on the network, they can generate the longest chain and outpace any attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcasted 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.
Full paper at:
The resulting thread saw some insightful analysis by Hal Finney, James A. Donald, and others on the email list. Satoshi also revealed something of ‘his’ motivations by saying that while Bitcoin wouldn’t solve the world’s political problems, “we can win a major battle in the arms race and gain a new territory of freedom for several years”.
Prior to that first email, nothing is known of the genesis of the Bitcoin idea. Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym, used by an individual or a group to protect their identity. The protocol has precedents in prior e-cash attempts, like Wei Dai’s “B-money”.
Two months later, the official Block 0 was mined, and Satoshi posted to the crypto list again to announce the open-source release of the first Bitcoin client.