For two decades the idea of secure electronic cash payments had been explored by great minds the likes of David Chaum and Nick Szabo, amongst others. However, it was not until 2008 that the idea would truly begin to gain traction.
In August of that year the domain Bitcoin.org was registered, and just two months later a whitepaper titled "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System." was published by a mysterious figure on the internet, known only as Satoshi Nakamoto.
In it, Satoshi described how...
"A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network". ~ Satoshi Nakamoto
Now don’t worry, as you’re not expected to fully understand this paragraph at this stage, as we’ll be covering its key components and terminology used throughout this course.
Getting back to Satoshi Nakamoto, his ideas would go on to inspire new thinking, new industry and innovation the world over. However Satoshi himself remains an elusive character, in fact, no one really knows who he, or even she is.
What we do know, however, is that with the launch of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto gave rise to a vast new generation of digital currencies, ultimately leading to the creation of over 3000 cryptocurrencies as of June 2019.
So now that we know how cryptocurrencies came to be, let's take a closer look at what exactly a cryptocurrency is.