Bitcoin's story begins in 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto publishes for the first time the White Paper on the digital currency, sending it to a small group of computer science and cryptographic sciences focused on privacy and its defense This group was made up of the senders of the cypherpunk movement mailing list.
Although this list was established as of 1992, ideas and the group as such had already been brewing since the 80s, especially driven by the work of David Chaum. We are talking about one of the first specialists to worry about the privacy of financial transactions and develop a digital system to solve these problems. If there is a Bitcoin grandfather, Chaum is perfect.
Cypherpunks write code
The cypherpunk movement overcame the privacy flag, especially in the face of the threat of control and censorship by governments and central authorities on technological development, information and value-sharing.
In this case, privacy could be understood as the legitimate right of every citizen in the world to disclose only the information that he wishes. This is a power for these activists and could be summarized in the following phrase of the Cypherpunk Manifest of Eric Hughes
Privacy is the power to reveal themselves selectively to the world.
Now, it's not about privacy anymore. This issue is particularly relevant in the context of open societies, freedoms, but in the midst of the digital age. Thus, members of the Cypherpunk movement not only argued and theorized on the subject, but rather They developed software to help achieve this goal.
Most members of the mailing list were prominent researchers and specialists in computer science and associated sciences. And in addition to privacy issues, they discussed the problems associated with government monitoring, corporate control of information, among others.
A special mention deserves cryptography. Recall that at this time, the civil use of this technology was prohibited, and the US government described it as "ammunition" for export purposes, so that its commercial expansion was not possible
The US government tried to control this type of development and even the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) code, it was published in a paper book to avoid these impositions.
The mailing list was created by Timothy May, Eric Hughes and John Gilmore. The mailing list was called CoderPunks, and was originally hosted on Gilmore's toad.com server.
Some of the list participants remained anonymous, but others are publicly known, being creators or active participants in the creation of software tools to improve privacy.
Some of the first cypherpunks:
- Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks.
Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent.
Jacob Appelbaum, developer of Tor.
-Philip Zimmermann, creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP).
-Zooko Wilcox-O & # 39; Hearn, developer at DigiCash and founder of Zcash.
Nevertheless, as far as its ancestry for Bitcoin (beyond the own Nakamoto) and its happening it is possible to stand out to Adam Back, inventor of Hashcash; Hal Finney, important developer of the PGP system and creator of the Reusable Work Test; Wei Dai, creator of b-money, one of Bitcoin's most prolific antecedents; and Nick Szabo, creator of Bit Gold, an important precursor of the Bitcoin architecture.
Bitcoin as a synthesis
If you look closely, Bitcoin is a synthesis of ideas and projects They did not work or they did it only partially. These last cypherpunks are important in this regard. Its influence or relationship with Bitcoin, its purpose and design, is clear.
Regarding Back, in addition to a mention in the own Bitcoin White Paper, the digital currency protocol inherited its underlying technology, that is to say, the Work Trial. And although Hashcash was designed to enhance anti-spam systems, the functioning of the Work Trial it uses is in line with the design of the Bitcoin mining algorithm.
The invention of Back has not been patented and is an open source technology, which has been implemented for protection systems against DDoS attacks.
Wei Dai's b-money could be considered as a draft of Bitcoin. The operation of one and the other holds many similarities. Thus, and although Dai himself assured that Nakamoto would not have read his work, like Bitcoin, b-money required a specific amount of computational work; This work had to be verified by users who update one ledger public
In addition, those who participate in the Test of Work of the system receive a reward for their activity; and the exchange of funds is made thanks to this collective and authentic accounting with cryptographic hashes. However, unlike Bitcoin, b-money never started walking.
Nick Szabo created Bit Gold as a system of third-party dependency-resistant exchange. He proposed an interesting solution to the potential Byzantine faults in the consensus of the network and against the possibility of double expenditure of the accounting unit of the network.
To avoid the double spending of the currencies, you had to solve a mathematical problem. The problems already resolved would be sent to the public registry, and each solution would become part of the next problem to be solved, creating a newly growing chain of properties. This aspect of the system provided a way for the network to verify and mark new currencies; a clear predecessor of timestamp server of Bitcoin.
In the case of Finney, not only its collaboration with the development of a Reusable Work Testing system fully functional before Bitcoin, but especially Its direct participation in the first days of Bitcoin they make it an important reference.
In addition to being one of the most active partners of Nakamoto, Finney was one of the first to download and run the first version of the Nakamoto Bitcoin client. In addition, he is the first recipient of a network transaction, after Satoshi himself sent him 10 BTC.
De Wei, Szabo and Dai have said they could be Satoshi Nakamoto. However, each one has denied it, leaving anonymity from the creator of Bitcoin intact.
Bitcoin: a cypherpunk product
In a way, Bitcoin is a cypherpunk product. Although he did not have an especially effusive reception, it is not only a synthesis of several projects inspired by this movement, it is also the realization of several of his ideals.
Thus, in spite of its pseudoandomimiability, Bitcoin complies with the basic principles of privacy and its protocol can reach higher levels of fungibility, So that transactions can be really anonymous, despite the block chain analysis. "An anonymous system allows individuals to reveal their identity when desired and only when desired, this is the essence of privacy," reads in the Cypherpunk Manifesto.
Privacy has always been a search for societies, according to Hughes. Search that can be crystallized with the implementation of new technologies, since "the technologies of the past did not allow a strong privacy." In this case, cryptography is a fundamental element, necessary for the development of truly private payment, communication and exchange solutions.
In addition, its decentralized and censorship-resistant operation provides an important network for the exchange of value and information, which does not depend on the will of an institution or regulator. Users and their own value relationships within the network are independent at the will of any group, without compromising directly the identity and critical information.
It is no accident that Satoshi Nakamoto has decided to send the Bitcoin White Paper to the cypherpunks mailing list. The philosophy of this movement and the possible motivations behind the creation of Bitcoin confront.
Although Bitcoin could be described as an apolitical tool, because the protocol and its operation are completely independent of the interests and opinions of its users, its creation was due to a particular context, for which Nakamoto proposed a solution: a network of value exchange (with potentially private transactions), decentralized and global, woven as the mosaic of several projects that Cypherpunks had matured for years.
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