What Is the Bitcoin White Paper?

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“I’ve been working on a new electronic money system that is fully peer-to-peer and has no trusted third party.” These were the words with which the pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto greeted the world twelve years ago in an email that published the Bitcoin whitepaper.

Until today nobody knows who he / she / they actually are. And no one has heard from Satoshi Nakamoto since April 23, 2011 after receiving an email that read:

I’ve moved on to other things. It’s in good hands with Gavin and everyone.

As a technical description, the Bitcoin whitepaper was the first document to set out the principles of a cryptographically secured, trustworthy peer-to-peer electronic payment system that was fundamentally transparent, censorship-resistant and put financial control back in the hands of the individual. At that time, the world was gripped by a financial crisis caused by excessive speculation in financial markets and banks risking millions of dollars ‘worth of depositors’ money.

This document lays the foundation for what is widely believed to be the first working digital currency technology based on a distributed ledger technology called “blockchain”.

One of the many groundbreaking elements of Satoshi’s electronic payment system was that it solved the longstanding double-spending problem that plagued cashless spending. By implementing timestamped transactions that are unanimously verified by a distributed network of auditors, it was no longer possible for one person to spend the same money twice.

The white paper was published under a public MIT license in 2008 for all to learn, share, and enjoy.