Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized currency that eliminates the need for central authorities such as banks or governments by using a peer-to-peer internet network to confirm transactions directly between users.
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A brief history
Bitcoin was created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonymous developer. Bitcoin is designed to be completely decentralized and not controlled by any single authority. With a total supply of 21 million, its scarcity and decentralized nature make it almost impossible to inflate or manipulate. For this reason, many consider bitcoin to be the ultimate store of value or ‘Digital Gold’. Bitcoin is fully open-source and operates on a proof-of-work blockchain, a shared public ledger and history of transactions organized into "blocks" that are "chained" together to prevent tampering. This technology creates a permanent record of each transaction. Users on the Bitcoin network verify transactions through a process known as mining, which is designed to confirm new transactions are consistent with older transactions that have been confirmed in the past, ensuring users can not spend a Bitcoin they don’t have or attempt to double-spend coins.
BTC in practice
New coins are created as part of the Bitcoin mining process. Bitcoins are rewarded to miners who operate computer systems that help to secure the network and validate incoming transactions. These Bitcoin miners run full nodes and use specialized hardware otherwise known as Application Specific Integrated Circuit Chips (ASICs) to find and generate new blocks. Once a series of computationally demanding problems have been solved a completed "block" is added to the ever-growing "chain", this mining process can fluctuate and become easier or harder depending on network demand and value, this is known as the network difficulty. Besides block rewards, miners also collect transaction fees which further incentivizes them to secure the network and verify transactions. This independent network of miners also decreases the chance for fraud or false information to be recorded, as the majority of miners need to confirm the authenticity of each block of data before it's added to the blockchain, in a process known as "proof of work."