The Eureka Moment That Made Bitcoin Possible

A key insight for the technology came to a physicist almost three decades ago at a Friendly’s restaurant in New Jersey

Amy Whitaker: Bitcoin and other digital currencies have been on a wild and much-publicized ride: Over the last year, the value of a single bitcoin has soared tenfold from $2,000 to $20,000 and then dropped by half again. A mystery surrounding the creator of the cryptocurrency, who has never been convincingly identified, has burnished its allure, and innovators and speculators now circle the globe attending high-priced industry conferences, many hoping to make their fortune.

But bitcoin didn’t just materialize from thin air. The encryption technology that makes it possible—known as blockchain—was developed almost three decades ago, by scientists whose role in the story has not received much attention.

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