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Bitcoin Alt Coins:The New Age Digital Currencies

Updated on January 21, 2015

What began as a mode of exchange to anonymously sell illegal products like drugs online; is about to prove to be the hi-tech future currency of the future. Bitcoin first caught the world's attention on 2nd October, 2013 when FBI shutdown the Silk Road websiteand arrested Ross William Ulbricht on charges of alleged murder-for-hire and narcotics trafficking violation.

Approximately, 30,000 Bitcoins were seized at the moment which has a combined value of about $20 million in today's market. Since then there was no turning back. Bitcoin prices soared in late 2013 reaching an all time high of $1250 in November. As of this moment it is traded at price around $440-$650. Though the market price of the currency seems volatile yet the currency has succeeded to gain the faith of many people. Everyday more and more online business and even physical stores are beginning to accept Bitcoin as a mode of payment and put their trust in a mathematical currency.

USB ASIC Bitcoin Miners
USB ASIC Bitcoin Miners

Bitcoin: The First Digital Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin was designed by a person under an alias name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, who launched its network in 2009. The first transaction in the history Bitcoin was a reward of 50 BTC awarded to its creator. Bitcoin is a Cryptocurrency that works over a SHA-256 algorithm and is stored in a Blockchain which records every transaction through a peer-to-peer network. Bitcoins can be obtained in one of 3 ways at the moment:

  1. Mining (preferably Pooled Mining)
  2. Block Confirmation(Transaction Confirmation), a small amount of Bitcoin is awarded upon each successful confirmation on the network.
  3. Buying through online coin exchanges
  • Microbits can be obtained through Bitcoin faucets.
    (Fact: 1 Bitcoin can be divided up to 8 decimal places)

Mining and Block/Transaction Confirmation are done by a peer-to-peer mega-network of computers collectively known as the Bitcoin network.

Coins of the 21st century are no more small round metal plates. They have become digital signals stored in electronic devices. Bitcoins are generally stored in a specilized software known as Bitcoin Wallet which can generate it's unique address and store the user's coin in the hard drive of the computer. To do this wallet has to download the entire blockchain into the computer first.
This caused a problem since the size of the blockchain increased by GBs through endless transactions and mining.

As a result website started growing, giving services which offered users to store their Bitcoin in online wallets. The wallets could be opened instantaneously since there no more the need to download the blockchain individually. These were the first businesses started solely depending the coin. A popular bitcoin portal isCoinBase : For Selling/Buying and storing Bitcoins.

The success of the Bitcoin was heavily driven by the term "Decentralized Currency", which means no central bank or agency had control over this new type of money. It appealed transparency and new freedom to the public. Now transactions could take place globally with clicks of a few buttons. It offered speed. Transactions could be made with minimal fees. The network proved to be reasonably safe to attack. The digital coin is seemed to be a solution to many modern banking and economic problems.

More users joined the network like the Texas Gold Rush in search for Digital gold and also realizing it's powerful future potential. The combined computing power reached astounding figures, as together the network was more powerful than 9 nine of world's most powerful supercomputers put together.

A beacon of new light shimmered on the horizon of science and technology. This was going to change the world forever. A change like never before; countless new possibilities arose; hundreds of new services started solely based on the coin. Currently the full power of the network is being used to mine the limited 21 million bitcoins that will ever be created, and to confirm transactions. After all the coins have been successfully mined the power of the network will be used to confirm transactions but more importantly can be put to other new uses. Complex mathematical problems could be solved using the platform. A new dawn of connective computing has surely risen.

Do you believe Bitcoins/Alt Coins to have a future?

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Bitcoin ATM
Bitcoin ATM

Alt Coins

As coin gained more popularity more developers and desginers stepped into market in order to make the coin better. In the process, many started making their own version of the coin. New digital coins started coming to the market. Bitcoins Alternatives are known as Alt Coins.

As the mining for Bitcoin intensified, people started to looking for faster and newer ways to mine bitcoins. Soon Application Specified Integrated Circuits(ASIC) were developed to mine bitcoins which easily overpowered the GPUs used by the average user to mine coins. To the need of those determined to hold the control of digital currency in the hands of common people, Scrypt based algorithm coins were developed. These coins were more ASIC resistant and could only be efficiently mined by GPUs.
The first Alt coin of the kind to gain popularity alongside Bitcoin was Litecoin, it is considered to be the sister to Bitcoin.

Hundreds of new coins have been developed since the advent of Litecoin, offering newer, more and sometimes better features. Popular Alt coins in recent market are Litecoin, Nxt Coin, Dark Coin, Peer Coin, Ripple Coin, Dogecoin. etc. Check CoinMarketCap for full list and more info on each coin.

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    • jgshorebird profile image

      Jack Shorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Good information. Thanks.

    • moviesreviews profile image

      Billy Taylor 2 years ago from NY

      Interesting article. Very informative and rich in detail. Thank you for sharing this