Bitcoin is just the first app to use blockchain technology

Understanding the value of the blockchain above and beyond bitcoin.

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Editor’s note: Lorne Lantz is a program co-chair for our O’Reilly Radar Summit: Bitcoin & the Blockchain on January 27, 2015, in San Francisco. For more on the program and for registration information, visit the Bitcoin & the Blockchain event website.

I remember the first time I heard about bitcoin. It was June 2012, and I was invited to a bitcoin meetup. The whole time I was sitting there, I thought these were a bunch of computer geeks playing around with nerd money.

At the same time, I felt excited about the possibilities. If what the bitcoin believers were saying was true, it could become something very big. When I took a closer look, I realized why it could be so groundbreaking: decentralization.

Unlike other currencies and payment networks, bitcoin is not controlled by a bank, government, or financial institution. Instead, thousands of computers around the world verify transactions and manage a global decentralized ledger. This innovative technology is called the blockchain, and it provides a unique pathway that allows — for the first time — many computers that don’t trust each other to achieve consensus. In bitcoin’s case, they are achieving consensus on updates to the global ledger.

Right now, bitcoin has a poor reputation in the public because the majority of media coverage has been about Silk Road, Mt. Gox, and price volatility. However, people are slowly becoming curious to understand bitcoin and the blockchain. Some exciting new start-ups are discovering the incredible value in the blockchain and applying it to other technologies and services. For instance, why only decentralize a ledger? Why not decentralize passports, health records, or contracts?

Even technologist Don Tapscott, once a bitcoin skeptic, has now come around to the idea of blockchain technology.

Looking at the misinformation, speculation, and confusion about bitcoin and blockchain technology: it’s the same conversation we had 20 years ago with the Internet. In the early 90s, the only way you could check your email was through a command line prompt. Then, web browsers were developed, small websites were created, and…well, as you can see, a lot has changed since. It’s looking as though bitcoin is just the first app to use blockchain technology, just like email was the first app to use the Internet.

With so much promise for the future of bitcoin and the blockchain, O’Reilly has decided to hold a Radar Summit: Bitcoin & the Blockchain on January 27th, 2015, in San Francisco. The program will feature many great speakers, including:

  • Stephen Pair talking about how Bitpay has enabled merchants to accept bitcoin.
  • Reid Hoffman in conversation with Wences Casares, CEO of Xapo, a bitcoin company he invested in.
  • Vitalik Buterin explaining the Ethereum project, which will allow developers to build decentralized applications.
  • Adam Ludwin from Chain.com showing how many developers are building on bitcoin today.

How will blockchain technologies evolve? When will the public at large start using blockchain technologies in their daily lives? I don’t know. What I do know is that at the Bitcoin & the Blockchain summit, we will learn directly from the people building these technologies, about where they think it’s all going.

Lantz also shares detailed information about Bitcoin and the blockchain in this video training course.

Cropped image on article and category pages by Ken on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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  • With Lorne at the helm, this should be a great bitCoin meetup….wish I could attend but if someone who does could post a vid of same, that’d be swell, eh!

  • Ramon Leon

    >Bitcoin is just the first app to use blockchain technology

    No, it’s an integral part of the blockchain technology; the two cannot be separated successfully, that’s why alt coins continue to fail, they don’t understand that simple fact.

    Blockchain tech only works when there’s enough hashpower to secure the network and that only occurs when the incentive for mining is great enough and that incentive is Bitcoin. Without Bitcoin, there is no blockchain.

    There will be other apps that use the blockchain, but in doing so they must by necessity also use Bitcoin which functions to secure the blockchain. Bitcoin is a core part of the blockchain, not merely an app that uses it.

    • Neal Palmquist

      If you happen to think bitcoin going up in price is proof of altcoin failure, then how come I now have your bitcoins after you guys spent them to buy my altcoins?

      During the crash, we were able to dump alot of altcoins onto you guys. We took your bitcoins. Now we will sell those bitcoins back to you and take your real money. Altcoins are money for nothing that comes out of your pocket because you will never learn to stop paying cash for bitcoin, LOL!

      • Ramon Leon

        Hey dufas, just because you made money doesn’t mean alt-coins haven’t failed. Idiots make money off penny stocks every day; they’re still shit stocks. Try and learn to think.

  • Reese2029

    Get some free bit coins before they go back to $1000: http://bit.ly/collectbtc

  • Neal Palmquist

    I made a profit on the bitcoin crash. I sold my altcoins that are created out of nothing more than thin air to people who paid real money for bitcoins. Now bitcoin is going up and I am able to sell to get my real money back plus more than what I spent in the first place!

    Taking real money from people who pay cash for bitcoin is like shooting fish in a barrel. Keep buying and drive the price up, guys! You will be buying your bitcoins back from me. And thank you very much for all your lies and propaganda that has made this possible.

    I’ll have plenty of bitcoins to sell to you guys again after next time when bitcoin crashes down to the price of silver. Let’s do this again, sometime, okay? I can sell your bitcoins back to you guys again and then use your real money to buy myself a new house!