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What is Bitcoin?
With the Bitcoin price so volatile everyone is curious. Bitcoin is extremely complicated and no one definition fully encapsulates it. By analogy it is like being able to send a gold coin via email. It is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money.
It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. Bitcoin was the first practical implementation and is currently the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence.
Who created Bitcoin?
The first Bitcoin specification and proof of concept was published in 2009 by an unknown individual under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto who revealed little about himself and left the project in late 2010. The Bitcoin community has since grown exponentially.
Satoshi's anonymity often raises unjustified concerns because of a misunderstanding of the open-source nature of Bitcoin. Everyone has access to all of the source code all of the time and any developer can review or modify the software code. As such, the identity of Bitcoin's inventor is probably as relevant today as the identity of the person who invented paper.
Who controls the Bitcoin network?
Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email or the Internet. Bitcoin transactions are verified by Bitcoin miners. While developers are improving the software they cannot force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to choose what software and version they use.
In order to stay compatible with each other, all users need to use software complying with the same rules. Bitcoin can only work correctly with a complete consensus among all users. Therefore, all users and developers have a strong incentive to protect this consensus.
How does Bitcoin work?
From a user perspective, Bitcoin is nothing more than a mobile app or computer program that provides a personal Bitcoin wallet and enables a user to send and receive bitcoins.
Behind the scenes, the Bitcoin network is sharing a massive public ledger called the "block chain". This ledger contains every transaction ever processed which enables a user's computer to verify the validity of each transaction. The authenticity of each transaction is protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses therefore allowing all users to have full control over sending bitcoins.
Thus, there is no fraud, no chargebacks and no identifying information that could be compromised resulting in identity theft. To learn more about Bitcoin, you can consult the original Bitcoin whitepaper or read through the extremely thorough Frequently Asked Questions