Bitcoin Basics

Bitcoin (BTC) is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that has the primary objective of functioning as a digital currency that can be exchanged or traded and represent value without the involvement of any third-party, centralized authority.

BTC is the name of the cryptocurrency and can be transferred electronically in a way that is secure, verifiable as well as immutable.

Bitcoin was originally launched in 2009. However, its whitepaper was written in 2008. It is the first cryptocurrency that solved the double-spending issue that was present in projects before it, where one person could spend the same amount of money twice.

This was solved through the procedure of timestamping the transactions prior to broadcasting them to all of the nodes within the network.

The Bitcoin protocol offered a solution in the form of the SHA-256d-based Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm, which enables the network to reach consensus through a network of nodes that are called "miners."

The network has a target block time of 10 minutes, and the maximum supply is capped at 21 million BTC cryptocurrencies. As a means of preventing fluctuations within the block time, the network's blocks re-adjust their difficulty through an algorithm.

The block size limit is capped at 1 megabyte, and the Bitcoin Protocol, throughout the years, has seen upgrades, such as the Lightning Network, Segregated Witness, as well as Taproot.

The protocol features a token emission rate, which halves every 210,000 blocks, which with the mining cycle, occurs every four years.

Within the Bitcoin network, anyone is able to join and become a part of the bookkeeping service. Each of the validators is in a consistent race against one another to solve a complex cryptographic puzzle, after which they will be able to confirm and add a block and connect it to the block that came before it, forming a chain.

The winner gets rewarded in the form of a newly created BTC cryptocurrency. The first block to ever be created on top of Bitcoin is known as the "Genesis block."

As anyone is able to join the competition, it increases over time, and the mining difficulty becomes more demanding. Miners can leverage Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners in order to mine cryptocurrencies or a rack of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) that features the required software.

The network of validators is spread out globally and is fully decentralized, meaning that there is no single authority that can gain control over the operation of the Bitcoin blockchain.

Proof-of-Work (PoW) is the consensus mechanism used across the Bitcoin network. It is a network of block producers that must spend resources external to the network, such as electricity, money for equipment, and the equipment itself, in order to provide proof to other participants that they did so.

Once a block gets produced, it is then propagated by the network block producer to all validators within the network, which can check on the validity of all transactions within that block.

The block producer can then receive rewards in the network's native cryptocurrency, which in this case is BTC. All validators will then be able to approve the block and update their ledgers.

The data structure within the Bitcoin blockchain is known as the Merkle tree data structure. Every block can contain thousands of transactions, and it will have the ability to combine all of the hashes and condense them within one, allowing for efficient and secure verification of the group of transactions. The single hash is known as the Merkle root and gets stored within the block header of the block.

Within the network, there is block time. Block time is the period of time required for the creation of the next block within a network.

The node that solves the computationally intensive task is allowed to produce the next block. The block time correlates with the amount of time it takes for a node to find a solution.

The default target block time on Bitcoin is 10 minutes. The mining difficulty changes as a means of maintaining this time frame.

Mining difficulty, on the other hand, refers to how difficult it is for a node to solve a computationally difficult task. In the Proof-of-Work (PoW) network, there are also orphan blocks. At the point in time when the block time is too slow, orphan blocks get created and provide no rewards. These are produced by nodes that solved the task but did not broadcast the results to the whole network due to latency issues.

Bitcoin saw numerous developments throughout time, such as Segregated Witness (SegWit), which separated witness signatures from transaction-related data. This enabled BTC to handle more transactions per second (TPS).

The Lightning Network was also introduced for Bitcoin, which provided a micropayment solution that enhanced scalability. Taproot was the latest and largest upgrade, which introduced Schnorr Signatures, which led to superior privacy, lower fees, and other benefits.

The founders or creators of the Bitcoin (BTC) cryptocurrency, as well as the writers of the whitepaper, went under the pseudonym "Satoshi Nakamoto."

What this essentially means is that we do not know and cannot know who the actual creator or group of people are behind the project due to the fact that they consciously chose to remain anonymous.

The whitepaper was published in 2008, and since then, the identity behind the person or the group of people has not been verified.

However, Bitcoin is an open-source project. What this means is that there is a list of numerous people, spread out globally, who are consistently pushing toward the better development of the project.

By navigating to the Bitcoin GitHub website, anyone can easily understand that there are over 900 contributors to the project, with over 36,422 commits. A commit or a revision is an individual change to a file or a set of files within GitHub. What this essentially means is that there are a lot of developers behind the project to this day, even despite the fact that we do not know who the original ones are.

Out of them, some of the most notable core contributors behind the project include Wladimir J. van der Laan, who is a Core Maintainer of Bitcoin Core.

There's also Marco Falke, who is a Core Contributor to Bitcoin Core and maintains the Bitcoin Network. Other notable people behind the project include Pieter Wuille, Gavin Andresen, Jonas Schnelli, Michael Ford, Matt Corallo, Cory Fields, and many others.

A complete list of all of the Bitcoin Core contributors can be found on the official Bitcoin website, as well as how many commits they have provided to the project, while their activities can be monitored on GitHub, and based on the data, we can see that there is a huge community of developers behind the project.