[kwlug-disc] Intro to Bitcoin

Bob Jonkman bjonkman at sobac.com
Sun May 12 15:04:34 EDT 2013

Looking forward to Stephen Weber's June presentation on Bitcoin...

In the meantime, I just ran across a nice introduction to Bitcoin by
John Levine:

"Buying coffee via a series of tubes" http://jl.ly/Money/bcslow.html

> If I want to pay you for something, I make up a transaction that
> includes our two wallets and the bitcoins, and send it out to the
> network. The various hosts look at the transaction and if it looks
> valid, i.e., I'm giving you coins that someone gave to me or that I
> mined, and I haven't given them to anyone else, they'll pass it
> along. Eventually there will be enough P2P nodes publishing your
> transaction that no competing transaction could be published, and the
> recipient will be able to publish subsequent transactions to give the
> coins to someone else. If two competing transactions are sent out at
> the same time, one of them will eventually win, via a process I don't
> entirely understand, but the details don't matter here.
> Cryptographically, this is extremely clever. Practically, it means
> that if I purport to pay you for, say, a cup of coffee with bitcoins,
> you have to watch reports from the P2P network until you see enough
> nodes reporting the transaction that you believe that it won't be
> overtaken by a competing transaction, which takes a while. Depending
> on how confident you want to be, that could take anywhere from
> several minutes to several hours. By that time, my coffee is cold and
> has an unattractive scum on top. (A friend who's been to Bitcoin
> conventions reports that people often give up and buy coffee with
> regular money.)


Bob Jonkman <bjonkman at sobac.com>         http://sobac.com/sobac/
SOBAC Microcomputer Services              Phone: +1-519-669-0388
6 James Street, Elmira ON Canada  N3B 1L5  Cell: +1-519-635-9413
Software   ---   Office & Business Automation   ---   Consulting

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