A gentle introduction to blockchain technology

by aainslie

Bits on blocks

This article is a gentle introduction to blockchain technology and assumes minimal technical knowledge.  It attempts to describe what it is rather than why should I care, which is something for a future post.


PART 1 – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


People use the term ‘blockchain technology’ to mean different things, and it can be confusing.  Sometimes they are talking about The Bitcoin Blockchain, sometimes it’s other virtual currencies, sometimes it’s smart contracts (to be discussed in another post).  Most of the time though, they are talking about distributed ledgers, i.e. a list of transactions that is shared among a number of computers, rather than being stored on a central server.

The common themes seem to be a data store which:

  • usually contains financial transactions
  • is replicated across a number of systems in almost real-time
  • usually exists over a peer-to-peer network
  • uses cryptography and digital signatures to prove identity, authenticity and enforce…

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