Created as a currency without any centralized control or regulation in the aftermath of the 2008 downturn, Bitcoin has entered the Guinness Book of World Records.
The entry in the renowned repository of world records and firsts, the entry for Bitcoin is title ‘First decentralized cryptocurrency’. The creator is credited as Satoshi Nakamoto, location is unknown, and the date of creation is January 3, 2009.
The official entry description goes on to describe a brief history and creation of Bitcoin, starting with the whitepaper published by Satoshi Nakamoto on August 18, 2008. The first block, Genesis, was mined on the date which is the creation date, and the code itself was released to the public a few days later on January 9.
There had been previous attempts to create a digital money, like the one by Nick Szabo, who also created the concept of smart contracts. These however, did not have any “trustless” third party verification like the blockchain.
“Earlier attempts at creating digital currencies used similar cryptographic techniques to identify users and log transactions, but still required a trusted third party (acting like a bank) to make sure that people didn’t “double spend” – that is, spend the same money more than once,” says the statement.
Bitcoin has several other “first first” entries in Guinness:
- The first commercial bitcoin transaction: Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 BTC to order $25 worth of pizza
- El Salvador as the first country to recognize bitcoin as legal tender
- The most valuable cryptocurrency, as well as the oldest
- The first non-fungible token (NFT) was created on Bitcoin
- The first bitcoin economy created on a Minecraft server with bitcoin as reward
The revolution of blockchains lies in creating an anonymous, trustless (not requiring trust) and decentralized verification process through a network like the blockchain.
The “double spend problem” is created when one coin is sent to two receivers simultaneously. Which one should be considered as “official” or accepted, so as to reject the other one? The blockchain provides the solution – the one that goes on to become the part of the longest chain, while the other chains being formed by other nodes get rejected as smaller in size.
Proof of Work creates the “trust mechanism” – the one who spends the maximum energy gets to create the official segment of the new blocks to be added, and the process moves on.
The origins of Bitcoin are to traced to an online community called “Cypherpunks”. The forum was created in 1992, and members included Nick Szabo, Hal Fiinney, and Wei Dei. Some attempts to created digital currency were made in concepts like Hashcash (1997) and DigiCash (1990). Satoshi Nakamoto was a member too, but this name was a pseudonym, and the identity of the actual member remains unknown till date. The online activities of this name are not visible since April 2011. His Bitcoin wallet is known to carry 60,000 BTC, currently worth over $20 billion.
As for the energy guzzling nature of bitcoin, Nakamoto himself addressed these concerns in the online community, comparing bitcoin’s waste of energy with the waste involved in the mining of gold. The latter is also a wasteful activity, but the mined gold has great utility – goes on to serve as a medium of exchange, a store of value and the basis of currency.
Writes Nakamoto, “The utility of the exchanges made possible by Bitcoin will far exceed the electricity used. Therefore, not (sic) having Bitcoin would be the net waste.”
The questioner who had criticised Bitcoin goes on to thank Nakamoto – “this thread has actually changed my mind as to my initial criticism”. He goes on to add more arguments in favour of Bitcoin – the net waste of printing government money is small, but the waste also includes efforts spent in keeping its value stable – policy enforcements, police and legal system, and national defence. The cost of investing in CPU cycles to mathematically guarantee economic honesty is smaller compared to the physical efforts spent in safeguarding the honesty of fiat money and its transactions.
Here is the snapshot of this part of the conversation between the two that took place on August 10, 2010.
The official Guinness entry can be read here: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/696246-first-decentralized-cryptocurrencyShare & like