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You’ve probably noticed people talking and tweeting endlessly about “Bitcoin” lately. So what the heck is it? Bitcoin is a decentralized, anonymous, digital-only currency that’s lately gotten a lot of public attention. But this isn’t some brand new invention — Bitcoin was originally developed in 2008. In 2008, someone using the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper describing how Bitcoins could work. Sure, you can buy Bitcoins with money. But you can also play prospector and “mine” them as well.
You do this by using your computer to hunt for 64-digit numbers. By having your computer repeatedly solve puzzles, you’re competing with other miners to generate the number that the Bitcoin network is looking for. If your computer generates it, you receive 25 Bitcoins. The Bitcoin system is decentralized and programmed to generate a fixed number of Bitcoins per unit of computing time. Currently, it’s set at 25 Bitcoins for every 10-minute block. In 2140, the total number of Bitcoins in circulation will be capped at 21 million. In other words, the Bitcoin system is self-sustaining, coded to prevent inflation, and encrypted to prevent anyone from disrupting its code.