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Bitcoin is a digital cryptocurrency made up of processed data blocks used for online and brick-and-mortar purchases. Because bitcoins are limited and their value is determined by market forces, bitcoins are also traded like stocks on various exchanges.
Relatively new and experimental, bitcoin is described as “the first decentralized digital currency.”
Bitcoins are generated after a block of data is processed, creating a block of transactional data in the bitcoin network. This is accomplished through a bitcoin mining client, although this function is no longer adequately performed via a regular central processing unit (CPU). The forecasted number of produced bitcoins is 21 million with an expected completion date of 2040.
Bitcoins may be purchased or sold over the bitcoin network and are considered secure because during each transfer, each bitcoin must be cryptographically signed. A bitcoin user is required to employ a public key, private key and bitcoin address for each transaction that occurs as a peer-to-peer transfer.
The bitcoin concept was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, although virtually nothing is known about him. In 2010, Nakamoto withdrew from the Bitcoin Project.