Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, without a central bank or single administrator, that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries. Transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain.
Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009.
Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. Research produced by the University of Cambridge estimates that in 2017, there were 2.
9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.
The first known transaction with Bitcoin occurred on January 12, 2009. Nakamoto is estimated to have mined one million bitcoins before disappearing in 2010 when he handed the network alert key and control of the code repository over to Gavin Andresen.
Andresen later became lead developer at the Bitcoin Foundation. Nakamoto’s identity remains unknown.
A government-backed committee in March 2014 recommended that Nepal adopt Bitcoin as an official legal tender. In September 2014 TeraExchange, LLC became the first U.S.-based exchange to trade Bitcoin derivatives on an exchange regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
In December 2014 Microsoft began to accept bitcoin to buy Xbox games and Windows software. On January 8, 2015 Coinbase closed its one millionth bitcoin transaction and announced plans to list the digital currency on their exchange later that month. In February 2015 it was announced that Overstock would become the first major retailer to accept bitcoin payments.
The highest Bitcoin owner is not yet known, as the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is still unconfirmed. However, it is believed that Nakamoto may hold up to 1 million Bitcoins, which would make them the highest Bitcoin owner at present.