What Is Bitcoin, and How Does It Work?

#News via #NYTimes

  • The records of the Bitcoin network, including all balances and transactions, are stored on every computer helping to maintain the network — about 9,500 computers in late 2017.
  • Bitcoin mining refers to the process through which new Bitcoins are created and given to computers helping to maintain the network.
  • The computers involved in Bitcoin mining are in a sort of computational race to process new transactions coming onto the network.
  • Anyone can set his or her computer to mine Bitcoin, but these days only people with specialized hardware manage to win the race.
  • While several people have been identified as likely candidates to be Satoshi, as the creator is known in the world of Bitcoin, no one has been confirmed as the real Satoshi, and the search has gone on.

Growing in importance but still not well understood, Bitcoin is a virtual currency with a novel background.

If you find the concept of Bitcoin confusing, you are not alone. The virtual currency has been a constant source of controversy, but it is still not well understood.

No. Those coins are novelty items that newspapers used in photographs because they couldn’t find anything else to illustrate their stories about Bitcoin.

A Bitcoin is a digital token — with no physical backing — that can be sent electronically from one user to another, anywhere in the world. A Bitcoin can be divided out to eight decimal places, so you can send someone 0.00000001 Bitcoins. This smallest fraction of a Bitcoin — the penny of the Bitcoin world — is referred to as a Satoshi, after the anonymous creator of Bitcoin.

This all gets confusing, because Bitcoin is also the name of the payment network on which the Bitcoin digital tokens are stored and moved.

Unlike traditional payment networks like Visa, the Bitcoin network is not run by a single company or person. The system is run by a decentralized network of computers around the world that keep track of all Bitcoin transactions, similar to the way Wikipedia is maintained by a decentralized network of writers and editors.

The record of all Bitcoin transactions that these computers are constantly updating is known as the blockchain.

Why do criminals like Bitcoin?

Criminals have taken to Bitcoin because anyone can open a Bitcoin address and start sending and…

What Is Bitcoin, and How Does It Work?