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History of Cryptocurrency ( 1977 – 2019 )

Bitcoin officially turned 10-years old on the 3rd of January 2019. This date represents ten years since Satoshi Nakamoto mined and verified the genesis block.

Posted January 14, 2019
Last updated November 23, 2021

Crypto history brain storm infograph
Crypto history brain storm infograph

Bitcoin officially turned 10-years old on the 3rd of January 2019. This date represents ten years since Satoshi Nakamoto mined and verified the genesis block on the Bitcoin blockchain. Before 2009, no viable form of digital currency existed. However, Bitcoin itself still owes its existence to advances in cryptography dating all the way back to 1977.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Bitcoin, we’ve detailed the five most important events in cryptocurrency history. Below we will look at key events which have been instrumental in shaping the modern cryptocurrency world as we know it.

So what’s been happening?

Old leather books on a book case

1. 1977 & The Creation of the RSA Cryptosystem

In 1977, MIT researchers Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman, invented the worlds first cryptographic RSA algorithm. Unlike existing forms of cryptography, RSA algorithms are asymmetric. This means that two different decryption keys are required to verify data, one private and one public.

Anyone who owns Bitcoin today will be familiar with how public and private keys are essential for safe storage and the immutability of transactions. For this reason, the invention of RSA cryptography in 1977, can be identified as the most important events in cryptocurrency history.

2. 1989 & The Invention of DigiCash

Bitcoin is often referred to as the grandfather of all modern forms of cryptocurrency. However, this isn’t strictly accurate. In fact, the cryptocurrency boom of 2009 – 2019 could have happened a full 20-years earlier.

In 1989, Dutch computer programmer David Chaum founded DigiCash Inc. Using his own patented Blind Signature Technology, Chaum created an anonymous electronic payment system. Specifically, one which allowed users to send peer-to-peer transactions which could never be traced by a third party.

Impressed by the potential of DigiCash Microsoft at one point bid to buy the rights to Chaum’s technology. Banks in St. Louis even offered to back DigiCash ecash with real U.S. dollars. Sadly, Chaum refused Microsoft’s offer, and DigiCash went bankrupt in 1999.

3. 1998 & Nick Szabo’s Invention of BitGold

Bit Gold (not to be confused with Bitcoin Gold) can be credited as the most common ancestor to today’s Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.

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Invented as a concept by Nick Szabo in 1998, Bit Gold used a public and private RSA cryptographic key system and Byzantine fault-tolerance consensus algorithm to verify transactions. Moreover, Szabo even envisaged a way to incorporate Smart Contracts into Bit Gold.

Sadly, Szabo was unable to find a fix for double-spending on the Bit Gold network, at least not without assigning some control to a centralized third party.

bitcoin image with world map and black background

4. 2009 & The Creation of Bitcoin

Nick Szabo continued to work on his idea for Bit Gold right up until 2008. In fact, in his last blog post on the subject, Szabo asked for help to test his idea for Bit Gold in the wild. Naturally, this has resulted in a flurry of speculation that Nick Szabo is Satoshi Nakamoto in the flesh.

Whether Nick Szabo is Satoshi Nakamoto or not, Bitcoin beat Bit Gold to the cryptocurrency market starting line in January 2009.

At what is hailed as the definitive start to the cryptocurrency era, Bitcoin quickly garnering the attention of investors and decentralization enthusiasts. Moreover, Bitcoin purists still argue that Bitcoin is the only valid form of cryptocurrency on the market, thanks to Bitcoin having weathered 10-years in the wild already.

Ethereum Logo ontop of connected world map with purple and black

5. 2013 & The Creation of Ethereum

The creation of Ethereum in 2013, represents the second most important event in recent cryptocurrency history. This is thanks to the fact that it wasn’t until the advent of Ethereum, that the cryptocurrency market really started to take shape.

After Bitcoin launched, several groups of programmers cloned the Bitcoin blockchain and created the world’s first altcoins. However, nothing new was appearing on the cryptocurrency market. To address this problem, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin created an entirely new form of cryptocurrency. Namely, one which made Nick Szabo’s Smart Contracts a reality, while also allowing users to create their own decentralized apps and cryptocurrency tokens.

Ethereum Infographic of applications and coins

Upcoming Important Events in Cryptocurrency

No one can say with any certainty what’s next for cryptocurrency. However, some upcoming events may get their place in the crypto history books.

In 2019, the Bitcoin and Litecoin Lightning network promises to make BTC transactions cheaper and faster than ever previously. Also due to launch in 2019 – 2020, Cardano will be the world’s first quantum computing resistant form of cryptocurrency, and may end up setting a new technological standard in the process.

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Disclaimer: Information is current as at the date of publication. This is general information only and is not intended to be advice. Crypto is volatile, carries risk and the value can go up and down. Past performance is not an indicator of future returns. Please do your own research.

Last updated November 23, 2021

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