Three words stand at the core of this exploding new technology. They are, from the more general to the particular, cryptocurrency, blockchain and bitcoin.
A cryptocurrency is a form of digital money which uses cryptography – the technology which secures digital communications – to maintain a reliable database of money transactions.
The blockchain is the decentralized, networked, peer-to-peer database proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto – the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin – in November 2008 and launched in January 2009, which enables the bitcoin currency.
Bitcoin is the – so far – most successful implementation of a cryptocurrency.
To learn about bitcoin, you need to begin with some knowledge of cryptography. The cryptographic techniques, employed in the blockchain design, determine the capabilities of the system. Bitcoin is inseparable from the technology that enables it.
Although cryptography is an intensely technical discipline, based on algorithms and their implementation in software and hardware, it is possible to understand what these tools do without going all the way down into the underpinning mathematics and electronics.
You can see how the blockchain is put together from a few core cryptographic tools
Building on an understanding of the blockchain you gain an appreciation of how bitcoin works and how the blockchain enables the development of other services.