If you’re at all interested in cryptocurrency or the blockchain, then you’ve probably already heard of Bitcoin. The story of Bitcoin is something legitimately intriguing and awe-inspiring in its own right… Who can resist the story of an anonymous creator – known as Satoshi – laying the foundations for an entirely new way for humans to store and transmit value. Nobody, right? And then, to top it off, the bitcoins linked to any of Satoshi’s addresses, now worth BILLIONS (at time of writing), go untouched on the Bitcoin blockchain. Crazy! Can’t wait for the movie.
In truth, Satoshi is not just the creator of Bitcoin, but also of modern blockchain implementations broadly. The blockchains that came after Bitcoin were often based on Bitcoin – and all were inspired by it. Satoshi openly got fed-up with the monetary system, corrupt banks, and crony capitalism, just like the rest of us… but then he actually tried to do something about it. And then he promptly vanished.
Unfortunately, when the rest of us then grew tired of Bitcoin’s infighting, reluctance to scale, mining centralization, and banker manipulation… Satoshi was still nowhere to be found. When Bitcoin started seemingly doubling itself (forking) faster than the Fed can double the money supply, Satoshi was still MIA. If Satoshi ever reaches out, then I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.
So, let’s stop rambling so broadly and get to the point:
It’s only fair that this site’s first post should be about Bitcoin, because Bitcoin is what led to “blockchain” being a household word and what started the cryptocurrency revolution that ultimately led to the true democratization of the entire interconnected world (just wait and see). For the first time in the history of modern civilization, individuals could own their own money instead of using their rulers’ money, they could be their own bank. They didn’t have to trust any third parties. People could send their bitcoins anywhere in the world with an internet connection and it took mere seconds. From the minute that I, personally, started learning about Bitcoin, I was hooked – and so were many others. Of course, if you’ve just started learning about Bitcoin today, then you might be perplexed at the recollection of low fees and fast transaction times – but it really used to be that way.
Here’s the thing (actually just one of the things…) Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, first and foremost. It was designed to liberate people from bankers and middlemen and to operate outside of nations as a store of value. It operates with a blockchain, which is a distributed public ledger verified and agreed upon by an entire network of machines. So cool. But that’s all that it does. And unfortunately, the more it is called upon to do what it promised to do, the slower and more expensive it gets to function acceptably well.
Today, not yet a decade after Bitcoin came into being, there are already blockchains that can do so much more. And for every frustrating and slow pitfall that Bitcoin has yet to fix, there is a more modern and functional solution. Sometimes, it is just wiser to abandon legacy ways of doing things and start over again with a better understanding of technology and how humans will interact with that technology. No doubt, Satoshi knew this.
The most well-known and well-funded of these next-generation blockchains is Ethereum…
TL;DR: First, there was Bitcoin… and next, next there was Ethereum.