Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. It is also what many love to hate. Bitcoin became a successful invention after its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, solved the complex problem called "double spending". Double spending had stalled many digital currency projects that existed before bitcoin. It was a computational problem that no computer geek or company had managed to solve by then. Examples of pre-bitcoin peer digital cryptos are ecash and bitgold.
Satoshi divulged his masterpiece in a white paper named 'bitcoin:a peer-peer digital cash system' posted in a cypherpunks forum in 2009. The initial block of btc was mined by its creator from which he earned 50 btc. Once a few crypto enthusiasts from the forum had started mining and spreading word, satoshi disappeared from the forum and hasn't been heard from since then. By the time he exit the public online space he's said to have mined one million bitcoins.
The initial price of bitcoin was $0.00. During early days, the price was agreed in forums. A famous early transaction is when 2 pizza were bought for 10000 btc. The seller should be a billionaire today(if he never sold).
As time progressed, more btc enthusiasts were born and the word spread more and more. One of the things that catapulted btc growth is the fact that it is a opensource software. Opensource software belong to everyone and anyone so developers joined in fast and improved btc source code through collaboration online.
Prior to 2017, the price of bitcoin played in the range of below $1000. Then, it wasn't famous or understood enough and besides, some early bugs had scared off investors but these were fixed quickly by the community of programmers from the world over. Btc in 2021 can be said to be a digital asset backed by a mature code base.
Btc has seen quick adoption due to its inevitability. Its key point is that it relies on distributed computing which means it is decentralized.
Decentralization in computing is the decouplement of a commodity or entity from control by a single authority to the collective control of anyone who is connected to the asset, through a computer network. In the case of bitcoin, bitcoin doesn't live in some server. It existings courtesy of all the interconnected computers that support it-and they are many from ever-increasing enthusiasts the world over. A decentralized system is also said to be autonomous. Autonomity is freedom from external control. Self-driving cars can be said to be autonomous as well.
The autonomity of btc is the reason it is digital gold. Infact, it more precious than gold because gold supply can be influenced by gold cartels, a challenge all physical assets face. Digital gold on the other hand if free from reach of cartels, governments, corporations and villains of any sort. This means the price entirely depends on demand and supply. No one can print bitcoin and cause it inflation.
Printing is to money what mining is to be bitcoin. New btc are produced through a computational process called mining. It involves using high-performance computers to solve complex mathematical computations which results in reconciliation of transactions in the network. The reward is a btc awarded for each block mined(reconciled), or a fraction of a btc if only a fraction of a block was mined. These computers use enormous amounts of electricity due to the nature of work they do. Renewable energy like solar and wind can make bitcoin mining lucrative because such sources of energy are free.
The technology behing bitcoin is known as 'the blockchain' technology. Blockchain tech is basically distributed computing + cryptography. A lot of things can be manged using the blockchain technology. An example is the NBA Topshots platform that commercializes basketball videos using the blockchain. Their sales in a year surpass $100m. Governments can use blockachain in its management information systems to purge corruption and increase civil engagement in governance. People can benefit from blockchain by just accepting it and using it to lower leer-peer transaction costs by over 95%!