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The History of Blockchain

When we hear the word blockchain, one might directly think about crypto and NFTs, but that’s not all there is…

The concept of blockchain technology actually came about long before the first major blockchains were brought up. In this course, we are going to go back in time and give you a brief overview of the history behind all blockchains!

First, a quick recap, what is a blockchain?

A blockchain is a digital record-keeping system where transactions are stored in blocks and linked together in a chain, making it secure and transparent. It uses cryptography to maintain the integrity and chronological order of its transactions, making it resistant to modification and tampering. With this technology, many different transaction-based solutions can come about!

Now that that’s clear, let’s get into the course! →

Blockchain’s Start

The idea around blockchains was first created in the late 80’s early 90’s in order to defend the interests and pseudonymity of individuals on the internet, preserving their privacy and freedom. From there, a well-known movement aimed at finding technological solutions around this philosophy called the Cypherpunk was born.

Tim May laid the first brick of blockchain philosophy with the publishing of “The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” in 1988, followed Eric Hugues’ release of the “Cypherpunk Manifesto” in 1993. In the early 1990s, computer scientist Stuart Haber and physicist W. Scott Stornetta devised one of the first major use cases of blockchain technology: the safeguarding of digital documents from data theft.

They accomplished this by utilizing cryptographic techniques in a chain of blocks. But other documents, notably on cryptography, had been shared long before that, in particular one by David Chaum in 1983, “Blind signatures for untraceable payment“.

He subsequently put the idea into effect by introducing DigiCash in 1989, with one of the first crypto currencies: “Cyberbuck,” despite the fact that the protocol was based on centralized technology. This crypto currency no longer exists, but it is a core component of what we know today.

There is no doubt that it influenced both Cypherpunk and Satoshi Nakamoto. During this time, other tech companies were constructing what we call the GAFAM, which is considerably more centralized* and thus faster to set up.

Blockchain Development

Just a few years later on October 29th of 2008, the idea of the infamous Bitcoin was created when Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin whitepaper on the forum bitcointalk.org. If you’re interested, you may browse the archives of Satoshi Nakamoto posts here.

Actual Bitcoin was created on January 3, 2009, when Satoshi decided to publish his system online in response to the looming economic disaster. However, Friedrich Hayek had long advocated for a truly decentralized currency in his 1976 book “For a true competition of currencies” which argues the idea of a currency competition to replace the current centralized monetary system.

According to Hayek, such competition would increase monetary stability and efficiency by allowing multiple currencies to adjust to consumer needs and deal with inflation and other economic issues. He also claimed that competition among currencies would drive innovation and responsibility in money issuance.

Finally, Hayek criticised interventionist monetary policy and called for monetary system decentralization to allow for better adaptation to the real economy. Unfortunately, the theory evoked by Hayek had some shortcomings as demonstrated in Dani Rodrik and Rodrik’s Incompatibility Triangle:

Once releasing Bitcoin, Satoshi realized that by exposing himself, he would become a major target for authorities seeking to destroy it. Since 2008, the mystery surrounding Satoshi Nakamoto has persisted: is he a woman, a man, or a group of people?

Back then, no one could have expected the unprecedented wave of development around cryptographic technologies and blockchain of people wanting to build a better and fairer future to come from just from Satoshi’s ideas.

Conclusion & Resources

Congratulations! You made it through KYVE’s course on the history of blockchain! You are now a pro when it comes to understanding the origins of blockchain technology.

Want to learn more? Feel free to check these resources:

  • Visit KYVE Docs to learn more about the KYVE Blockchain.
  • Always DYOR before taking action in supporting a Web3 project!
  • Run into any terms marked with * that you’re not aware of? Visit the KYVE Glossary to learn what they mean!
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