In the eight years since the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto released bitcoin into the world, a number of other cryptocurrencies have come and gone. Today, Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two largest cryptocurrencies in the world by a large margin. Many programmers, investors, companies and lay people are convinced that these blockchain-based currencies have the potential to change the world in myriad different ways.
This primer features just some of Motherboard's coverage of bitcoin and ethereum over the last few years to help you get up to speed on the rapidly evolving world of cryptocurrencies. Although Motherboard has also covered other altcoins like Monero, Zcash, Auroracoin and Dogecoin, this primer is focused on articles related to Bitcoin and Ethereum. Additionally, we've written on these topics too many times to count, so we're just serving you up the hits.
If you know all about bitcoin and are looking to learn about Ethereum, check out our beginner's guide.
Why Satoshi Nakamoto Matters (2016)
Sataoshi Nakamoto is the name at the top of the infamous 2009 whitepaper that introduced bitcoin to the world. Nobody knows whether Nakamoto is an individual or a collective, or his intentions.
Life Inside a Chinese Bitcoin Mine (2015)
This Motherboard documentary takes you inside an underground bitcoin mine in rural China. After its release, bitcoin quickly succumbed to economies of scale, meaning that the only profitable way to mine the currency is by running massive mining operations where electricity is cheap—like China. Far from the pristine server centers of Palo Alto, this dingy Chinese mine is nevertheless reaping millions in bitcoin.
Bitcoin Isn't the Criminal Safe Haven People Think It Is (2013)
It's no secret that bitcoin fuels online dark net markets. But it's not as anonymous as most people think.
Unless Everyone Using Bitcoin Makes This Radical Change, the Currency Will Die (2015)
This piece marks the beginning of Motherboard's coverage of the "block size debate," now referred to as a "civil war" without a clear end in sight. We've written about the events, issues, and drama in this debate countless times.
The Dream of Buying a Coffee With Bitcoin is Dying, If Not Already Dead (2016)
The block size debate continues. Many bitcoin proponents see the cryptocurrency as the future of financial transactions, which will allow you to buy everything from drugs to your Starbucks coffee. But delays in implementing a block size change have put this vision in jeopardy.
Bitcoiners Are Plotting Their Independence Day (2017)
Two years after we first wrote about the block size debate, the bitcoin network has become choked with transactions and it can take hours or even days for a bitcoin to make it through the network. This has fueled the "civil war" raging over the future of bitcoin. Is it almost at its end?
Bitcoin is Worth $2000. What? (2017)
A high-level explanation of what drives bitcoin's economy and price.
Bitcoin is Unsustainable (2015)
Why the energy cost of a single bitcoin transaction uses as much energy as the daily energy requirement of 1.5 American homes.
Colorado Hemp Farmers Are Turning to Bitcoin for Their Banking Woes (2016)
A concrete look at what bitcoin can offer under-banked industries.
I Visit Libraries to Sell Bitcoins to Random People From the Internet (2015)
Bitcoin is a digital currency, but the system is made up of real people. Did you know bitcoins can even be sold offline?
Is Going Offline a Solution to Bitcoin's Hacking Problem?
A primer on storing bitcoins offline, and how that can address some serious security problems that cost people real money.
Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin's 'Halving'
Does what it says on the tin. This piece explains a key aspect of what makes bitcoin's economy tick.
Check out the rest of Motherboard's bitcoin coverage
Ethereum's Boy King Is Thinking About Giving Up the Mantle (2017)
Motherboard's profile of Vitalik Buterin, the 23-year-old who invented ethereum at 19 and is now facing something of an existential crisis.
The First Version of the Programming Language and Cryptocurrency Ethereum Is Out (2015)
A look back at ethereum on the day it went live.
The Biggest Hacker Whodunnit of the Summer (2016)
An in-depth look at the infamous DAO hack, which saw an anonymous hacker steal $55 million from the ethereum network,and showed the risks associated with the smart contracts that are also ethereum's biggest selling point.
Why Ethereum Succeeded Where Bitcoin Failed (2016)
Why the hardfork following the DAO hack speaks to ethereum's ability to make quick, effective decisions.
Ethereum Hard Fork Spawned a Shaky Rebellion (2016)
Inside the split between Ethereum Core and Ethereum Classic as a result of the DAO hack.
Ethereum is DDoS-ing Itself (2017)
The wave of ethereum ICOs has exposed one of the network's biggest barriers to scalability.
An Idiot's Guide to Building an Ethereum Mining Rig (2017)
At the core of the ethereum network are the miners solving cryptographic hash functions to earn Ether. Here is an idiot's guide to learning how to get started in mining.
Smart Contracts Sound Boring, But They're More Disruptive than Bitcoin (2015)
At the heart of the ethereum network is the smart contract. What is it, and why do people think smart contracts will change the world?
Bitcoin's First Felon Wants to Use Ethereum to Buy Up Michigan's Waste Industry (2017)
How a felon arrested for ties to the Silk Road plans to use ether to buy up Michigan's mom-and-pop waste management industry. A look at one of the more out-there ideas about how ethereum can work in the real world.
Cryptocurrency Mining is Fueling a GPU Shortage (2017)
Can't find a graphics card anywhere? Blame the miners.
The National Bank of Canada Has Joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (2017)
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance is a consortium of Fortune 500 companies and national actors looking to leverage the ethereum blockchain in their respective industries. One of the latest members is the National Bank of Canada. But why didn't they opt for Bitcoin?
Bitcoiners are Freaking Out Over 'The Flippening' (2017)
Ethereum is poised to become the world's number one cryptocurrency.