Blockchain has been the hot topic of the decade. With its ability to smoothen supply chains, revolutionize cash through cryptocurrency and form a decentralized payments platform, blockchain is gradually stepping into the indispensable robe.
Although the advent of Bitcoin in 2008 made blockchain a hotbed of discussion at dinner parties, blockchain’s existence predates far beyond that. So, where did this technology emerge from? And what is the longest-running blockchain in the world? Let’s dive in to answer these.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a connected linear chain of blocks that stores data. Blockchain is a distributed ledger across a peer-to-peer network of computers.
- Data stored in the blocks are timestamped to make them immutable.
- The data is cryptographically encrypted by a hash code. Each block has a public and private key.
- To validate any transaction, there is no central entity.
- The authenticity is verified using consensus by a majority of nodes.
It is impossible to alter any block because its hash also contains the previous block’s hash. Any attempt to change the data would issue red flags to the other blocks as well.
Blockchain ensures data privacy through decentralization and consensus.
A Startling Fact
Bitcoin has stolen the show, but it’s time we look beyond the spotlight. Did you know that the world’s oldest blockchain has been in existence 13 years before Bitcoin? And it has been making its appearance weekly, printed in the Notices and Lost and Found section of the New York Times! It’s also used more frequently across the healthcare industry, and even in an online casino!
Progenitor to the Longest-Running Blockchain
It was in 1991 when the first idea about blockchain was conceptualized by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta. They proposed timestamping the documents, thus rendering them immutable and protecting the fidelity of the data. The concept of Merkle Tree was adopted that collected several document certificates into blocks.
The two blockchain proponents started their company Surety, whose document certificate hashes have been published in New York Times till date. Surety was their timestamping service whose main product was AbsoluteProof.
Let us take a deep dive to understand how Surety served its clients:
- It cryptographically seals data by generating hash code
- Surety timestamps the digital document
- The seal is like the digital signature
- Every seal has its copy stored in Surety’s Universal Registry database
- This creates the hash chain, which is immutable
- Surety published a new hash for all new seals added in the database weekly in the New York Times
This procedure makes the data secure and protects its fidelity.
But there is one catch. Surety failed to guarantee trust- a key component of the blockchain cauldron. Thus, it cannot really be called the complete blockchain, rather a predecessor to it. Yet, it is undeniable how Surety became an inspiration for the world’s longest-running blockchain.
Bitcoin- The Longest-Running Blockchain
Till 2008, documents were timestamped but there was no provision for the peer-to-peer transfer of data securely. Satashi Nakamoto conceptualized Bitcoin blockchain– the oldest and longest running till now.
Although this contemporary model was inspired by the 1991 research, Satashi improved the design by introducing Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism. He proposed a hash cash method for timestamping data, technology in use for cryptocurrency mining.
The new discovery no longer required a trusted party to validate and timestamp the data blocks. It solved the major missing variable in the blockchain equation- it was trustless. Since the whitepaper was published in 2008 and deployed in 2009, Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency continues recording all transactions securely and in a decentralized way.
Surety was the first commercially deployable prototype of the contemporary blockchain. Although Haber and Stornetta did not make it big, they were the predecessors of the longest running blockchain, Bitcoin.
The hype around this cryptocurrency is high and it is to rise, with Bitcoin prices nearing USD 20000 in September 2022. Competitors like Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, each trying to outperform the oldest blockchain have grown in popularity. The journey of Bitcoin has not ended here and might continue to enthrall generations!
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