There’s a lot of terms flying around recently, like “blockchain”, “Bitcoin”, and “mining”. We’ll do our noble best to lay out everything you need to know in one spot, so you know what the heck everyone is talking about.
Bitcoin is a new digital currency(“cryptocurrency”, which basically means it’s done on a computer and it’s secure) typically stored in a “wallet” on your computer or phone, although you can print out a paper wallet too. Bitcoin is revolutionary for a couple of reasons:
- It’s distributed. Most people store their currency in a bank, but what if the bank gets hacked, shuts down, or there’s a power outage? Your cards wouldn’t work and your money would be locked up until they got stuff sorted out. Bitcoin doesn’t suffer from this, since everyone who uses Bitcoin helps out the network, and there is no center point of failure.
- It’s secure. Really secure. Every transaction has to be verified by other people’s gadgets on the network. Every time you try and collect a Bitcoin or spend one, the network checks that you really do own that coin and who you gave it to. Then your transaction is verified, which is kind of like a credit card charge clearing. It’s basically impossible to fake or steal a Bitcoin.
- It’s public. When the network checks your transaction, they check it against the ledger, which is freely available from thousands, if not millions of sources. Every transaction is recorded in the ledger, which everyone has access to, but that’s just a record of a whole lot of Bitcoin addresses and serial numbers. The ledger is referred to as the blockchain.
- It’s private. When you make a wallet, nobody asks for your name or address. You just get a string of text that is your Bitcoin address, which people can send you coin to, and most modern wallets change their address every time you receive a Bitcoin. No names or any identifying info.
At the time of this writing, the current value of Bitcoin was something like $2,582 USD per Bitcoin. Each bitcoin can be divided down a hundred million times into 0.00000001, or a satoshi(Mr. Satoshi is credited as the creator of Bitcoin).
Bitcoin is set to become a staple of the internet, and we here at Corvallis Computer think it’s great. We accept Bitcoin here and can help you get set up with a wallet and convert some money to Bitcoin if you want. On a last note, most online drug deals and other shady activities use Bitcoin, and it kind of gets a bad rap for that. Our opinion is cash can also be used for shady activity, and nobody seems to have a problem with that when you’re paying for a coffee.
Further reading: the Wikipedia article has all the finer points of bitcoin and related cryptocurrencies.