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The complete, easy-to-understand guide to bitcoin
Markets rely on knowledge.
The internet provided practically endless knowledge and wisdom. Humanity has never seen such leverage. Technology's progress drives us to adapt to a changing world, changing our routines and behaviors.
In a digital age, people may struggle to live in the analogue world of their upbringing. Can those who can't adapt change their lives? I won't answer. We should teach those who are willing to learn, nevertheless. Unravel the modern world's riddles and give them wisdom.
Adapt or die . Accept the future or remain behind.
This essay will help you comprehend Bitcoin better than most market participants and the general public. Let's dig into Bitcoin.
Bitcoin.org was registered in August 2008. Bitcoin whitepaper was published on 31 October 2008. The document intrigued and motivated people around the world, including technical engineers and sovereignty seekers. Since then, Bitcoin's whitepaper has been read and researched to comprehend its essential concept.
I recommend reading the whitepaper yourself. You'll be able to say you read the Bitcoin whitepaper instead of simply Googling "what is Bitcoin" and reading the fundamental definition without knowing the revolution's scope. The article links to Bitcoin's whitepaper. To avoid being overwhelmed by the whitepaper, read the following article first.
Bitcoin isn't the first peer-to-peer digital currency. Hashcash or Bit Gold were once popular cryptocurrencies. These two Bitcoin precursors failed to gain traction and produce the network effect needed for general adoption. After many struggles, Bitcoin emerged as the most successful cryptocurrency, leading the way for others.
Satoshi Nakamoto, an active bitcointalk.org user, created Bitcoin. Satoshi's identity remains unknown. Satoshi's last bitcointalk.org login was 12 December 2010. Since then, he's officially disappeared. Thus, conspiracies and riddles surround Bitcoin's creators. I've heard many various theories, some insane and others well-thought-out.
It's not about who created it; it's about knowing its potential. Since its start, Satoshi's legacy has changed the world and will continue to.
Bitcoin is a distributed ledger. What's the meaning?
Everyone can view all blockchain transactions, but no one can undo or delete them.
Imagine you and your friends routinely eat out, but only one pays. You're careful with money and what others owe you. How can everyone access the info without it being changed?
You'll keep a notebook of your evening's transactions. Everyone will take a page home. If one of you changed the page's data, the group would notice and reject it. The majority will establish consensus and offer official facts.
Miners add a new Bitcoin block to the main blockchain every 10 minutes. The appended block contains miner-verified transactions. Now that the next block has been added, the network will receive the next set of user transactions.
Bitcoin Proof of Work—prove you earned it
Any firm needs hardworking personnel to expand and serve clients. Bitcoin isn't that different.
Bitcoin's Proof of Work consensus system needs individuals to validate and create new blocks and check for malicious actors. I'll discuss Bitcoin's blockchain consensus method.
Proof of Work helps Bitcoin reach network consensus. The network is checked and safeguarded by CPU, GPU, or ASIC Bitcoin-mining machines (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit).
Every 10 minutes, miners are rewarded in Bitcoin for securing and verifying the network. It's unlikely you'll finish the block. Miners build pools to increase their chances of winning by combining their processing power.
In the early days of Bitcoin, individual mining systems were more popular due to high maintenance costs and larger earnings prospects. Over time, people created larger and larger Bitcoin mining facilities that required a lot of space and sophisticated cooling systems to keep machines from overheating.
Proof of Work is a vital part of the Bitcoin network, as network security requires the processing power of devices purchased with fiat currency. Miners must invest in mining facilities, which creates a new business branch, mining facilities ownership. Bitcoin mining is a topic for a future article.
More mining, less reward
Bitcoin is usually scarce.
Why is it rare? It all comes down to 21,000,000 Bitcoins.
Were all Bitcoins mined? Nope. Bitcoin's supply grows until it hits 21 million coins. Initially, 50BTC each block was mined, and each block took 10 minutes. Around 2140, the last Bitcoin will be mined.
But 50BTC every 10 minutes does not give me the year 2140. Indeed careful reader. So important is Bitcoin's halving process.
What is halving?
The block reward is halved every 210,000 blocks, which takes around 4 years. The initial payout was 50BTC per block and has been decreased to 25BTC after 210,000 blocks. First halving occurred on November 28, 2012, when 10,500,000 BTC (50%) had been mined. As of April 2022, the block reward is 6.25BTC and will be lowered to 3.125BTC by 19 March 2024.
The halving method is tied to Bitcoin's hashrate. Here's what "hashrate" means.
What if we increased the number of miners and hashrate they provide to produce a block every 10 minutes? Wouldn't we manufacture blocks faster?
Every 10 minutes, blocks are generated with little asymmetry. Due to the built-in adaptive difficulty algorithm, the overall hashrate does not affect block production time. With increased hashrate, it's harder to construct a block. We can estimate when the next halving will occur because 10 minutes per block is fixed.
Building with nodes and blocks
For someone new to crypto, the unusual terms and words may be overwhelming. You'll also find everyday words that are easy to guess or have a vague idea of what they mean, how they work, and what they do. Consider blockchain technology.
Nodes and blocks: Think about that for a moment. What is your first idea?
The blockchain is a chain of validated blocks added to the main chain. What's a "block"? What's inside?
The block is another page in the blockchain book that has been filled with transaction information and accepted by the majority.
We won't go into detail about what each block includes and how it's built, as long as you understand its purpose.
What about nodes?
Nodes, along with miners, verify the blockchain's state independently. But why?
To create a full blockchain node, you must download the whole Bitcoin blockchain and check every transaction against Bitcoin's consensus criteria.
What's Bitcoin's size?
In April 2022, the Bitcoin blockchain was 389.72GB.
Bitcoin's blockchain has miners and node runners.
Let's revisit the US gold rush. Miners mine gold with their own power (physical and monetary resources) and are rewarded with gold (Bitcoin). All become richer with more gold, and so does the country.
Nodes are like sheriffs, ensuring everything is done according to consensus rules and that there are no rogue miners or network users.
Lost and held bitcoin
Does the Bitcoin exchange price match each coin's price? How many coins remain after 21,000,000? 21 million or less?
Common reason suggests a 21 million-coin supply.
What if I lost 1BTC from a cold wallet?
What if I saved 1000BTC on paper in 2010 and it was damaged?
What if I mined Bitcoin in 2010 and lost the keys?
Satoshi Nakamoto's coins? Since then, those coins haven't moved.
How many BTC are truly in circulation?
Many people are trying to answer this question, and you may discover a variety of studies and individual research on the topic. Be cautious of the findings because they can't be evaluated and the statistics are hazy guesses.
On the other hand, we have long-term investors who won't sell their Bitcoin or will sell little amounts to cover mining or living needs.
The price of Bitcoin is determined by supply and demand on exchanges using liquid BTC. How many BTC are left after subtracting lost and non-custodial BTC?
We have significantly less Bitcoin in circulation than you think, thus the price may not reflect demand if we knew the exact quantity of coins available.
True HODLers and diamond-hand investors won't sell you their coins, no matter the market.
Unspent (U) Transaction (TX) Output (O)
Imagine taking a $100 bill to a store. After choosing a drink and munchies, you walk to the checkout to pay. The cashier takes your $100 bill and gives you $25.50 in change. It's in your wallet.
Is it simply 100$? No way.
The $25.50 in your wallet is unrelated to the $100 bill you used. Your wallet's $25.50 is just bills and coins. Your wallet may contain these coins and bills:
2x 10$ 1x 10$
1x 5$ or 3x 5$
1x 0.50$ 2x 0.25$
Any combination of coins and bills can equal $25.50. You don't care, and I'd wager you've never ever considered it.
That is UTXO. Now, I'll detail the Bitcoin blockchain and how UTXO works, as it's crucial to know what coins you have in your (hopefully) cold wallet.
You purchased 1BTC. Is it all? No. UTXOs equal 1BTC. Then send BTC to a cold wallet. Say you pay 0.001BTC and send 0.999BTC to your cold wallet. Is it the 1BTC you got before? Well, yes and no. The UTXOs are the same or comparable as before, but the blockchain address has changed. It's like if you handed someone a wallet, they removed the coins needed for a network charge, then returned the rest of the coins and notes.
UTXO is a simple concept, but it's crucial to grasp how it works to comprehend dangers like dust attacks and how coins may be tracked.
Lightning Network: fast cash
You've probably heard of "Layer 2 blockchain" projects.
What does it mean?
Layer 2 on a blockchain is an additional layer that increases the speed and quantity of transactions per minute and reduces transaction fees.
Imagine going to an obsolete bank to transfer money to another account and having to pay a charge and wait. You can transfer funds via your bank account or a mobile app without paying a fee, or the fee is low, and the cash appear nearly quickly. Layer 1 and 2 payment systems are different.
Layer 1 is not obsolete; it merely has more essential things to focus on, including providing the blockchain with new, validated blocks, whereas Layer 2 solutions strive to offer Layer 1 with previously processed and verified transactions. The primary blockchain, Bitcoin, will only receive the wallets' final state. All channel transactions until shutting and balancing are irrelevant to the main chain.
Layer 2 and the Lightning Network's goal are now clear. Most Layer 2 solutions on multiple blockchains are created as blockchains, however Lightning Network is not. Remember the following remark, as it best describes Lightning.
Lightning Network connects public and private Bitcoin wallets.
Opening a private channel with another wallet notifies just two parties. The creation and opening of a public channel tells the network that anyone can use it.
Why create a public Lightning Network channel?
Every transaction through your channel generates fees.
Money, if you don't know.
See who benefits when in doubt.
Bitcoin anonymity? Bitcoin's anonymity was utilized to launder money.
Well… You've heard similar stories. When you ask why or how it permits people to remain anonymous, the conversation ends as if it were just a story someone heard.
Bitcoin isn't private. Pseudonymous.
What if someone tracks your transactions and discovers your wallet address? Where is your anonymity then?
Bitcoin is like bulletproof glass storage; you can't take or change the money. If you dig and analyze the data, you can see what's inside.
Every online action leaves a trace, and traces may be tracked. People often forget this guideline.
A tool like that can help you observe what the major players, or whales, are doing with their coins when the market is uncertain. Many people spend time analyzing on-chain data. Worth it?
Ask yourself a question. What are the big players' options? Do you think they're letting you see their wallets for a small on-chain data fee?
Instead of short-term behaviors, focus on long-term trends.
More wallet transactions leave traces. Having nothing to conceal isn't a defect. Can it lead to regulating Bitcoin so every transaction is tracked like in banks today?
But wait. How can criminals pay out Bitcoin? They're doing it, aren't they?
Mixers can anonymize your coins, letting you to utilize them freely. This is not a guide on how to make your coins anonymous; it could do more harm than good if you don't know what you're doing.
Remember, being anonymous attracts greater attention.
Bitcoin isn't the only cryptocurrency we can use to buy things. Using cryptocurrency appropriately can provide usability and anonymity. Monero (XMR), Zcash (ZEC), and Litecoin (LTC) following the Mimblewimble upgrade are examples.
Congratulations! You've reached the conclusion of the article and learned about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. You've entered the future.
You know what Bitcoin is, how its blockchain works, and why it's not anonymous. I bet you can explain Lightning Network and UTXO to your buddies.
Markets rely on knowledge. Prepare yourself for success before taking the first step. Let your expertise be your edge.
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