Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to control its creation and management, rather than relying on central authorities. Prior to the release of bitcoin there were a number of digital cash technologies starting with the issuer based ecash protocols of David Chaum and Stefan Brands. In the bit gold proposal which proposed a collectible market based mechanism for inflation control, Nick Szabo also investigated some additional enabling aspects including a Byzantine fault-tolerant asset registry to greebel bitcoin charts and transfer the chained proof-of-work solutions. The possibility that Satoshi Nakamoto was a computer collective in the European financial sector has also been discussed.
On 18 August 2008, the domain name bitcoin. 2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks. The text refers to a headline in The Times published on 3 January 2009. This note has been interpreted as both a timestamp of the genesis date and a derisive comment on the instability caused by fractional-reserve banking. The first open source bitcoin client was released on 9 January 2009. One of the first supporters, adopters, contributor to bitcoin and receiver of the first bitcoin transaction was programmer Hal Finney. Finney downloaded the bitcoin software the day it was released, and received 10 bitcoins from Nakamoto in the world’s first bitcoin transaction on 12 January 2009.
In the early days, Nakamoto is estimated to have mined 1 million bitcoins. The value of the first bitcoin transactions were negotiated by individuals on the bitcoin forum with one notable transaction of 10,000 BTC used to indirectly purchase two pizzas delivered by Papa John’s. On 6 August 2010, a major vulnerability in the bitcoin protocol was spotted. Transactions weren’t properly verified before they were included in the transaction log or blockchain, which let users bypass bitcoin’s economic restrictions and create an indefinite number of bitcoins. Based on bitcoin’s open source code, other cryptocurrencies started to emerge. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit group, started accepting bitcoins in January 2011, then stopped accepting them in June 2011, citing concerns about a lack of legal precedent about new currency systems. In September 2011 Vitalik Buterin co-founded Bitcoin Magazine.
In January 2012, bitcoin was featured as the main subject within a fictionalized trial on the CBS legal drama The Good Wife in the third-season episode “Bitcoin for Dummies”. In September 2012, the Bitcoin Foundation was launched to “accelerate the global growth of bitcoin through standardization, protection, and promotion of the open source protocol”. The founders were Gavin Andresen, Jon Matonis, Patrick Murck, Charlie Shrem, and Peter Vessenes. In March the bitcoin transaction log called the blockchain temporarily split into two independent chains with differing rules on how transactions were accepted. For six hours two bitcoin networks operated at the same time, each with its own version of the transaction history.
The core developers called for a temporary halt to transactions, sparking a sharp sell-off. On 15 May 2013, the US authorities seized accounts associated with Mt. Gox after discovering that it had not registered as a money transmitter with FinCEN in the US. On 23 June 2013, it was reported that the US Drug Enforcement Administration listed 11.