Introduction to Bitcoin

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Information about Introduction to Bitcoin

Published on February 5, 2014

Author: ashmoran



Introduction to Bitcoin, prepared by Bitcoin Manchester to initially be presented at the Manchester Free Software Festival in February 2014.


* What is money?
* What is good money?
* How does fiat money work?
* What is Bitcoin?
* How does Bitcoin work?
* Why is Bitcoin important?

manchester Introduction to Bitcoin Why is cryptocurrency so important? Ash Moran

Overview 1. What is money? 2. What is good money? 3. How does fiat money work? 4. What is Bitcoin? 5. How does Bitcoin work? 6. Why is Bitcoin important?

1. What is money?

Question What makes you consider something as money?

One definition of money “Money is the general medium of exchange, the thing that all other goods and services are traded for, the final payment for such goods on the market” Murray Rothbard (referring to Ludwig von Mises)

2. What is good money?

Question What makes something good as a form of money for you?

Qualities of good money ‣ Generally accepted ‣ Recognisable ‣ Uniform ‣ Divisible ‣ Scarce ‣ Durable ‣ Portable

3. How does fiat money work?

Notes and coins Who likes pound coins and notes?

Bank debt Who likes bank debt?

Who remembers when beer cost this much?

Who has noticed the price of beer is now this?

Why has this happened?

UK money supply (billion GBP) Source: Wikipedia

When will this happen?

The bankers are stealing your beer + =

4. What is Bitcoin?

Not this


Addresses Example: 1kqHKEYYC8CQPxyV53nCju4Lk2ufpQqA2 Donation address for

Transactions public record

Blocks and the blockchain T8 Block 1 T1 T2 Block 2 T3 T5 Block 3 T6 T7 T9 public record

Aside: centralised banking private record (central, trusted authority)

Distributed peer-to-peer-network Internet public record (no central authority, no trust)

5. How does Bitcoin work?

Three difficult problems to solve 1. Defining the sequence of events (transactions) 2. Ensuring only address owners can spend coins 3. Ensuring address owners can only spend coins once

One easy problem to solve 1. Issuing bitcoins

Defining a sequence of events a “timestamp server” using cryptographic hashes

Ensuring only address owners can spend coins Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm

Ensuring address owners can only spend coins once Longest chain (“true history”) Genesis block Dead forks We need to make this hard to generate
 to prevent double-spending

Ensuring address owners can only spend coins once Cryptographically hard to calculate

Bitcoin mining hardware a Butterfly Labs ASIC miner

Issuing bitcoins

Issuing bitcoins Feb 2014:
 12.4MBTC ~2033: 21MBTC Creation halves every 210k blocks / ~4 years

6. Why is Bitcoin important?

Reason 1 “Give me control of a nation's money supply, and I care not who make its laws” – Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Reason 2 “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” – Henry Ford

Qualities of good money revisited ‣ Generally accepted ‣ Recognisable ‣ Uniform ‣ Divisible ‣ Scarce ‣ Durable ‣ Portable

Scarcity vs Which policy do you prefer?

No hyperinflation

Sadly no money forts either

Scarcity “Economic growth is good for you”

Scarcity ? consumption capital

Durability private keys

Portability “At, our mission is making publishing democratic — accessible and easy for anyone, anywhere. And while anyone can start a free blog here, not everyone can access upgrades (like going ad-free or enabling custom design) because of limits on traditional payment networks. Today, that changes: you can now buy upgrades with bitcoins. PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions. Some are blocked for political reasons, some because of higher fraud rates, and some for other financial reasons. Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control. Our goal is to enable people, not block them.” – Andy Skelton,

Portability Transactions are easy to broadcast

Portability ‣ Bitcoins are free or cheap to move around
 (free as in beer) ‣ Bitcoin is free software
 (free as in beer and speech) ‣ Bitcoin is free money
 (free as in speech)

Related Info Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System ‣ ‣ Original paper - surprisingly accessible if you’re a bit technical ‣ Money as Debt (video by Paul Grignon) ‣ ‣ Explains the history of our monetary system ‣ Highly recommended ‣

Finish Questions?

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