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Coin-a-Week: Bitcoin

This is Coin-a-Week, the laziest coin coverage yet. We reprint coin-a-day archives with minimal revision and marginalia, not because the original was spectacular, but because we have it at hand and we have plenty more where that came from.
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[There was a reference to the dogecoin post following being caught in the filter, then:] Fixed; spam filter issue. Thanks ThePiachu !
Coin-a-Day Jan 1stWeek February 14th
Welcome to the first Coin-a-DayWeek post, as introduced yesterdayintroduced "about a week ago"(tm)! Today I'm talking about Bitcoin, since it's the foundation for everything. This gives us an opportunity to review my format: what else should I have included? This post is something of a template for how I will be covering other coins. Up next for tomorrow"in a week"(tm) is dogecoin. I have not yet decided upon the next one after that, although I have an extensive list to choose from based on just the list I started with off the top of my head and the comments from yesterday.
Summary:
• 21 million coins limit; 13,675,325 13,837,675 currently [0]
• All-time high: $1124.76 [0.1]
• Current price: ~$314 256 [0]
• Current market cap: ~$4.3 3.5 billion [0]
• Block rate (average): 10 minutes [0.2]
• Transaction rate: 58882 transactions in the last 24 hours, estimated $22.6 million [0.3] 83,982 transactions in the last 24 hours (covering about Jan 2nd), estimated ~$230 million. [0.3] (revised) 96,919 transactions in the last 24 hours (around Feb 14 2015) [0.3]
• Transaction limit (current): 7 transactions/second [0.4] (This varies based on transaction sizes but is a commonly cited estimate.) [3 transactions / second estimated at normal / current transaction sizes; I use the 7 transactions / second and "theoretical maximum" values for this series]
• Transaction cost: 0.0001 BTC standard fee (or free under certain conditions) [0.5]
• Rich list: Top 100 addresses hold 20.36%20.9% [0.6] (I know I've seen a better richlist with a pie chart but forget where)
• Exchanges: Many. [0.7] (There are also many notable direct sellers not listed on there.)
• Community: Extensive. Highest merchant adoption.
• Processing method: Proof-of-work; paid with block reward + transaction fee
• Code / Development: https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin ; strong developer team and community
• Distribution method: mining
• Innovation or special value: First cryptocurrency; largest market cap
Description
Bitcoin is the gold standard of cryptocurrencies. It came first[1], it has the largest market share[0], and it has one of the highest unit prices[0]. It is the foundation upon which substantially all alt-coins have been based, so it will be described here, and referenced frequently in later articles in comparison.
Bitcoin is based upon a distributed transaction-processing system called "mining". In it, computers race to solve a problem (making a hash less than a given value[2]) which allows them to add a set of transactions to the ledger (add a "block" to the "blockchain"), and gain a reward in bitcoins.
This reward acts as the incentive for transaction processing as well as providing new bitcoins. This reward is progressively halved over time until eventually there will be 21 million bitcoins [3] There is also a transaction fee (technically optional, see reference for details) [0.5].
Transactions are a combination of inputs (which are previous unspent transaction outputs or miner rewards) and outputs. The inputs must be greater than or equal to the outputs, and the difference is the transaction fee.
Bitcoin uses "addresses" which are hashes of public keys. An input must be properly signed by the private key in order to be spent[4]. This provides the cryptographic security of the network: as long as the mathematical models and program implementations used are correct, then the system will behave as expected (money cannot be spent twice; money cannot be spent by someone who doesn't own it; etc.). This is the "trustless" and "decentralized" nature of the system: there is no central authority relied upon to validate transactions (like a payment processor). Instead, this functionality is implemented by independent 'nodes' following a public protocol and monitored by other independent sources.
For instance, if any miner were to attempt to add a block which spent bitcoins which did not exist, or for which a proper signature was not provided, other miners acting in accordance with the protocol would refuse to build upon this block and clients (wallets) would also not recognize it as valid.
Most of these features are common to the alternative coins ("altcoins") which were developed after bitcoin and are based upon it ["clonecoins"]. Its code is also the basis for many of the alt coins.
Community
Without being too inflammatory and with tongue-slightly-in-cheek, Bitcoin has developed a userbase of crazy libertarians[5] who constitute the coin's greatest strength and greatest weakness. Most of them deny the value of any alternative coin[6]. Some of them believe that bitcoin will inevitably become the global reserve currency [7].
Merchant adoption is currently the strongest of any cryptocurrency. It has grown very significantly in the past year. It varies by country, industry, and in-person versus online, but there have been many major adoptions. They use payment processors rather than accepting it directly for the most part. Rather than attempting to put a big list here we'll make today's 10,000 NYAN challenge to the reader with the best source listing all or as many merchants accepting it as possible. C'mon people, I swear I've seen this on /bitcoin before.
Footnotes
[0] http://coinmarketcap.com/
[0.1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Bitcoin (Wikipedia used as a source for 'general knowledge' confirmation)
[0.2] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/FAQ#Why_do_I_have_to_wait_10_minutes_before_I_can_spend_money_I_received.3F
[0.3] https://blockchain.info/stats https://bitinfocharts.com/bitcoin/
[0.4] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Scalability#Current_bottlenecks
[0.5] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Transaction_fees Transactions fees can be omitted. For most transactions, this causes a much longer time until confirmation. For a transaction less than 1000 bytes, with outputs greater than 0.01 BTC, and with a higher priority, they may be safely omit the fee.
[0.6] http://bitcoinrichlist.com/top100
[0.7] http://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/bitcoin/#markets
[1] There were various precursors in cryptocurrencies, notably Hashcash, the proof-of-work function (not a currency as the name might imply). And there had been other digital currencies previously. But this was the first virtual currency introduced which revolved around decentralization powered by cryptography. These two aspects: decentralized exchange and a reliance upon cryptography will generally define cryptocurrencies here. "Centralized cryptocurrencies" may also be considered, but are considered atypical. [This footnote was also in the Dec 31st launch; this may be made broken into a separate topic eventually.]
[2] Requiring a hash to be less than a given value forces the solver to try many values of an otherwise irrelevant value. This requires processing time, thus "proof-of-work". The "difficulty" is a parameter which decides how small a hash must be to be accepted. https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Difficulty This is called "proof-of-work" (as opposed to "proof-of-stake", a later development based on demonstrating ownership in a currency) and its purpose is to regulate the average speed of the block generation as well as provide a mechanism for determining whose block is allowed to be added to the chain.
[3] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Controlled_supply
[4] https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Transaction
[5] https://www.quora.com/What-does-Yishan-Wong-think-about-Dogecoin/answeYishan-Wong
[6] Based on the author's reading of /bitcoin. This may not be representative of more sane communities like Bitcointalk or the broader community.
[7] http://nakamotoinstitute.org/mempool/speculative-attack/ http://nakamotoinstitute.org/mempool/hyperbitcoinization/
Additional Reading
• Original whitepaper - https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
• bitcoin wiki - https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Main_Page
• bitcointalk (general source) - https://bitcointalk.org/
• bitcoin.org - A general reference
/bitcoin On second thought, let's not go there. 'Tis a silly place.
Disclosure
I am unqualified.
These posts are known to the state of California to be made from products which may induce cancer under certain circumstances.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to all discussion and critique!
[edits complaining about formatting issues removed for brevity]
submitted by coinaday to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

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