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Not going to place element: return 0. Yet despite all the sound and fury surrounding this made-up money, most people have a hard time understanding exactly what Bitcoins are—and how they work. This is troubling, especially if you’re thinking of investing your own time and money in the Bitcoin phenomenon. Starting your own bitcoin wallet isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Bitcoins aren’t tied to the fortunes of any single nation’s economy. They’re easy to exchange, and they aren’t subject to transaction fees.
But you need to know a few important things before throwing your money into the volatile Bitcoin market. You need to understand how the Bitcoin system works, where it succeeds, and where it’s weak. Bitcoins are created, traded, and controlled by the people Simply put, a bitcoin is an algorithm-based mathematical construct—a unit of measurement invented to quantify value. Each of these physical Bitcoins has a private key embedded beneath the hologram that links to a Bitcoin address worth the amount shown on the face of the coin. We’re definitely in a Bitcoin bubble Bitcoin is big right now, probably too big for its own good.
Since a Bitcoin has no value beyond what someone is willing to pay for it, the price of Bitcoins tends to change quickly. 260 apiece yesterday very successful investors. Professor Magnus Thor Torfason, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. The value of bitcoins can only keep going up, right? You can mine Bitcoins, but the gold rush is over You don’t have to put your own money on the line if you want to jump into the Bitcoin market. Bitcoins by putting your PC to work crunching code on the Bitcoin network.
If you’re lucky, you could earn a whopping bounty of 25 Bitcoins. Here’s how it works: Batches of Bitcoins are awarded to Bitcoin miners—people who volunteer to install and run a Bitcoin client on their PCs. The client uses CPU and GPU processing power to solve very complex math problems, and then shares those solutions with the entire network. The problems are extremely difficult to solve, but easy to verify as correct, and they incorporate logs of transactions on the Bitcoin network. As a result, miners track and verify Bitcoin payments as they work. The first client to solve a given block of transactions is awarded a set number of Bitcoins—25 as of publication, down from 50 when Bitcoin began—once the work is verified by other clients on the network. That fixed number is halved every four years, until at some point no more new Bitcoins will be created.
This fantastic infographic from Bitdata illustrates how Bitcoin mining is a crucial part of how the Bitcoin network operates. But unlike gold, Bitcoins enter the world at a rate that shows very little variation. If mining drops off, Bitcoins will become easier to mine. Vitalik Buterin, head writer at Bitcoin Magazine. The best way to get Bitcoins is to buy them on an exchange. My research suggests that Buterin is right: These days, you probably won’t earn many Bitcoins through mining unless you’re part of a mining pool—a group of users who combine their processor resources cooperatively to chew through solutions faster, and thus increase their rate of earning Bitcoins.
Plenty of mining pools exist, each with its own rules and methods of distributing Bitcoin rewards. If you do decide to take the plunge and buy some Bitcoins on an exchange like Mt. Gox, you’ll need a place to spend them. Bitcoin is still young, but the list of merchants that accept Bitcoins is growing rapidly as the currency gains traction through media exposure. Adam CroweA Reddit user claims to have found this plaque in a corner food market in British Columbia. Bitcoins aren’t protected or insured by anyone Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. Once a Bitcoin transaction is broadcast to the network it can’t be revoked.
So a hacker who accesses the PC that stores your Bitcoin wallet can send your entire Bitcoin fortune to another wallet—and there’s nothing you can do about it. Of course, if the PC that stores your Bitcoin wallet is owned by a third party that insures it against theft—say, a respectable Bitcoin wallet hosting service—you might be able to recover the value of some or all of your stolen currency. Nobody knows who really created Bitcoin Bitcoin’s creator was a coder and cryptography enthusiast who communicated on the cryptography mailing list under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Many reporters have tried—and failed—to unearth Nakamoto’s true identity, but so far the progenitor of the most successful virtual currency ever made remains a mystery. Bitcoins aren’t the first virtual currency, and they won’t be the last Bitcoin would appear to be the most successful virtual currency we’ve ever seen, but it’s not the first.
From e-gold to Beenz to Facebook Credits, people have been trying—unsuccessfully—to build viable virtual currencies for more than a decade. These has-been virtual currencies failed for different reasons. Some were shut down by the government authorities on charges of money laundering. Some were shut down by their owners at the culmination of elaborate scams. And some petered out when people stopped buying them. Because Bitcoin is decentralized, it can’t be shut down by anyone.