Bitcoin (₿) is a decentralized digital currency, without a central bank or single administrator, that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries. Transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. The cryptocurrency was invented in 2008 by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency began use in 2009 when its implementation was released as open-source software. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin
Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network based digital currency. Peer-to-peer (P2P) means that there is no central authority to issue new money or keep track of transactions. Instead, these tasks are managed collectively by the nodes of the network... The limited inflation of the Bitcoin system’s money supply is distributed evenly (by CPU power) throughout the network, not monopolized by the banks.
Scaled price movements during various price cycles: (2020-05-15) Dixon The Crypto Price-Innovation Cycle
Turn on Options->Generate Coins to get a few coins by helping to run the network. Bitcoin runs in the background when your computer is idle and should not slow down other programs. It may take days to successfully generate a coin, so be patient. The timing varies and depends on how much idle CPU time you contribute. The total eventual circulation of Bitcoins will be 21 million coins. There will never be more coins than that. The coins are entering circulation gradually, at a steady pace over many years, to nodes supporting the network in proportion to the CPU time they contribute. So it's Grid Computing with no value generated?
They seem to acknowledge that they are simply creating Artificial Scarcity as a Game Rule while hoping that people will start treating it as a Medium Of Exchange on that basis alone (plus the feature of anonymity).
John Robb notes that it can be a good Currency for Exchange Of Value despite being too risky for Store Of Value (because of speculation risk). But under that kind of model, unless your purchases equal your sales, you have to keep doing exchanges between BitCoin and a "real" currency, which adds financial and hassle overhead.
Apr'2014: reading list