Timeline, inspired by Cryptomaniacs:
1982 — David Chaum and system for untraceable payments
1991 — Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta first works on a secure chain of blocks
1992 — Merkle trees introduction
1997 — Nick Szabo: smart contracts and the vending machine
2002 — Decentralized trust within a network file system
2005 — Bitgold
2008 — Bitcoin whitepaper
2009 — The rise of Bitcoin
2015 — Ethereum. Smart Contracts. Blockchain 2.0
2017 — ICOs’ and blockchain projects’ attack
As Pearl Buck once said, “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” Honestly speaking, it is much easier to understand a complicated subject after you’ve learned its origins, and the history of technology is no exception. Contrary to popular belief, the prelude to blockchain was not Bitcoin’s whitepaper; it actually all started long before the mysterious appearance of Satoshi Nakamoto.
So how come blockchain is what it is now?
In 1982, David Chaum suggested the idea of a cryptographic system for untraceable payments and two years later, based on his previous works, he created the first cryptographic anonymous electronic cash system — ecash.
The year was 1991, Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta were exploring secure chains of blocks. In their works, they were searching for possible solutions for document timestamps to remain unchanged.
It’s interesting that in one of their later interviews, although they admitted that Bitcoin’s whitepaper was well-written and “the code is an amazing piece of software engineering”, they were also quite skeptical of Proof-of-Work protocol.
In 1992 the Merkle Tress conception was proposed and improved the existing strategy by enabling the option of several documents to be stored in one block.
Merkle Tress is a data structure that simplifies the process of validating its contents.
Nick Szabo is an iconic figure in the world of cryptography. In fact, some still think that he might be the real Satoshi Nakamoto.
Nick Szabo was the first person to introduce smart contract technology. Back in the 90s, he drew a parallel between this technology and a vending machine:
“A canonical real-life example, which we might consider to be the primitive ancestor of smart contracts, is the humble vending machine. Within a limited amount of potential loss (the amount in the till should be less than the cost of breaching the mechanism), the machine takes in coins, and via a simple mechanism, which makes a freshman computer science problem in design with finite automata, dispense change and product according to the displayed price. “
Very similar to the way smart contract technology works today.
Later on, in 2002 David Mazieres and Dennis Shasha were researching data structures and suggested the idea of decentralized trust.
Three years later, Bit Gold was proposed by Nick Szabo. In his work, Mr. Szabo was contemplating the idea of an alternative to the present-day reality, in which the economy and hence society are independent of banks and other third parties. Bit Gold was the first attempt to create a cryptocurrency, a protocol that involved Proof-of-Work, timestamps and digital signatures. A network that resembled the blockchain we know today. However, Bit Gold’s idea was not flawless. It couldn’t solve the crucial double-spending problem, where the owner of the coins has the possibility to spend them twice.
And then in 2008, the double-spending problem was successfully solved when Bitcoin’s whitepaper was published by Satoshi Nakamoto. One year later, together with a help of Hal Finney and other developers, Bitcoin’s first client was released and the first Bitcoins were issued. And that’s when the world’s first blockchain was born.
In telling the blockchain story, you cannot help but mention Satoshi Nakamoto and the intrigue of his personality. He is perhaps the most controversial figure in the history of Blockchain. He used to be very active on forums during the first two years of Bitcoin’s “rise to power”, but completely disappeared in 2011.
Nakamoto is estimated to have around 1 million bitcoin. There are a couple of theories about his vanishing. One says Nakamoto decided to let BTC go to develop on its own, others suspect that he saw some serious downfalls and just abandoned his creation.
The fact that his identity until now still hasn’t been revealed heightens everyone’s interest. Some have claimed to be him and others have been suspected. Many investigations have taken place but the question still remains unanswered.
Blockchain is a lot more than just Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, and the possibilities it promises are endless. The technology is still in the early stages of its development, and one of the main factors that hinders the progress is the general lack of knowledge. The Lumi team wants to do its part by telling the world about the potential of this technology, its basic concepts, and any new developments.