Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym) through an email sent out to a group of people released Bitcoin in 2008. Attached to the email was a white paper called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. The purpose of Cryptocurrency was to create a place where people could make secure and anonymous transfers. From the moment of creation, the popularity of cryptocurrency has continued to rise steeply over the years.
For Bitcoin to work, there needed to be a place where the currency could sit and be used. This is where Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta’s 1991 invention of the blockchain comes in. Dr Stefan Beyer commented in an article that 17 years before the release of the Bitcoin paper, a published academic paper explained the main idea behind cryptographically linking blocks in an append-only data structure. The work focused on timestamping documents, a popular use case for blockchain technology, even today. Many businesses use a public blockchain system to notarise documents. By storing hash values in a timestamped block on the blockchain, one can prove that a document existed at a certain time in a certain version. This has many applications, ranging from registering intellectual property rights to contract arbitration.
Cryptocurrencies first emerged in 2009 when the world’s first decentralised currency, Bitcoin, began and thus began mining (the process of transactions being recorded and verified). A year later, on May 22, Laszlo Hanyecz made history by becoming the first person to trade Bitcoin. Over the years, Bitcoinwas increasing in popularity mainly because the lack of control and monitoring from any government.
In 2011, competitive cryptocurrencies (Litecoin, Namecoin and Swiftcoin) entered the market. 2017 saw the biggest increase in value across thousands of live cryptocurrencies which have not joined our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, shortly after the unprecedented boom in 2017, the beginning of 2018 saw a different story. The market crashed and fell by 65%, leaving newcomers unsettled as to whether it will ever pick up again. At this stage, Dr. Scott Stornetta said, “I think Bitcoin was a brilliant piece of work, but it was sort of a solution looking for a problem.”
However, since 2018, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are rising again. As of today, Bitcoin’s total market cap is over US$1.17 trillion. Five years ago, you could buy a Bitcoin for about US$500. As of Oct. 29, 2021, a single Bitcoin’s price was over US$62,000.
Below is a list of the top 5 cryptocurrencies as of November 2021: