Blockchain has been the hot topic of the decade. With its ability to smooth supply chains, revolutionize cash through cryptocurrency, and form a decentralized payment platform, blockchain is gradually becoming the must-have.
Although the arrival of Bitcoin in 2008 made the blockchain a focus of dinner party discussion, the existence of the blockchain is much older than that. So where did this technology come from? And what is the longest running blockchain in the world? Let’s dig deeper to answer these.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a connected linear chain of blocks that stores data. Blockchain is a ledger distributed through a peer-to-peer computer network.
- The data stored in the blocks is time stamped so that it is immutable.
- The data is cryptographically encrypted using a hash code. Each block has a public and private key.
- To validate any transaction, there is no central entity.
- The authenticity is verified by the consensus of the majority of the nodes.
It is impossible to alter any block because its hash also contains the hash of the previous block. Any attempt to change the data would also raise red flags for the other blocks.
Blockchain ensures data privacy through decentralization and consensus.
A Startling Fact
Bitcoin has stolen the show, but it’s time we looked beyond the spotlight. Did you know that the world’s oldest blockchain exists 13 years before Bitcoin? And it’s been appearing weekly, in print in the Lost & Found section of the New York Times! It is also used more often in the healthcare industry, and even in an online casino!
Progenitor of the Longest-Running Blockchain
It was in 1991 when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta conceptualized the first idea about the blockchain. They proposed time-stamping the documents, thus making them immutable and protecting the fidelity of the data. The concept of a Merkle Tree collecting various document certificates in blocks was adopted.
The two blockchain advocates started their company Surety, whose document certificate hashes have been published in the New York Times to date. Surety was their time-stamping service whose main product was AbsoluteProof.
Let us take a deep dive to understand how Surety served its customers:
- It cryptographically seals data by generating a hash code.
- Surety marks the time of the digital document
- The stamp is like the digital signature.
- Each stamp has its copy stored in the Surety Universal Registry database.
- This creates the hash string, which is immutable.
- Surety published a new hash for all new stamps added to the database weekly in the New York Times
This procedure makes the data secure and protects its fidelity.
But there is a catch. Collateral failed to guarantee trust, a key component of the blockchain cauldron. Therefore, it cannot actually be called the complete blockchain, but rather a predecessor of it. However, it is undeniable how Surety became an inspiration for the world’s longest-running blockchain.
Bitcoin: The Longest Running Blockchain
Until 2008, documents were timestamped, but there was no provision for secure peer-to-peer data transfer. Satashi Nakamoto conceptualized the oldest and longest-running Bitcoin blockchain to date.
Although this contemporary model was inspired by 1991 research, Satashi improved the design by introducing the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism. He proposed a cash hashing method for timestamp data, technology in use for cryptocurrency mining.
The new discovery no longer required a trusted party to validate and timestamp blocks of data. It solved the main missing variable in the blockchain equation: it had no trust. Since the whitepaper was published in 2008 and implemented in 2009, Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, continues to record all transactions in a secure and decentralized manner.
Surety was the first commercially deployable prototype of the contemporary blockchain. Although Haber and Stornetta did not succeed, they were the predecessors of the longest-running blockchain, Bitcoin.
The hype around this cryptocurrency is high and set to rise, with Bitcoin prices approaching $20,000 by September 2022. Competitors like Ethereum, Dogecoin, Cardano, each trying to outdo the older blockchain, have gained popularity. Bitcoin’s journey has not ended here and could continue to captivate generations!