Blockchain: History, Innovations & Applications

— By Karim Deaibes

History

When asked who invented the Blockchain, the massive majority will answer “Satoshi Nakamoto”. However, that isn’t entirely true. Yes, the developer (or group of developers) working under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto introduced Bitcoin which was the first successful application of the Blockchain. But the tech itself existed way before. It all started in 1982, 27 years before Nakamoto’s white paper. David Chaum, a student at the University of California at Berkeley doctoral candidate, outlined a Blockchain database in his dissertation: ”Computer Systems Established, Maintained, and Trusted by Mutually Suspicious Groups”. Although the suspicious networks Chaum described weren’t specifically designed for digital currencies, the connection was obvious.

In 1989 and following his work in Blockchain, Chaum founded a company called DigiCash, which 6 years later introduced a cryptocurrency known as digicash, cyberbucks, and eCash. However, DigiCash declared bankruptcy in 1998 after Chaum was unable to convince banks to support his vision and with the lack of internet infrastructure to support peer-to-peer transactions and only exchanges.

Many other technological innovations paved the way for the creation of the Blockchain we know now, one of these innovations is the Merkle Tree, which was named after computer scientist Ralph Merkle. In his 1979 Ph.D. thesis for Stanford University, he described an approach to public-key distribution and digital signatures called “tree authentication”.

Innovations

In 2008, a paper in online discussion forums titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash” was released under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was the first Blockchain innovation to be released, a digital currency experiment that paved the way for other cryptocurrencies. According to experts, the Blockchain protocol in the Nakamoto white paper is essentially the same as that in Chum’s paper, with only one difference: the addition of the proof-of-work mechanism for validating data blocks and mining coins.

The second innovation is the actual Blockchain when researchers made a realization about the power of Bitcoin’s underlying technology and the potential behind it. Ever since then, almost every major financial & tech researcher is pivoting their work to Blockchain research.

Smart contracts are the third major innovation in Blockchain, changing the game in this field. Smart contracts were introduced in “Ethereum’’, a second-generation Blockchain system. These contracts are a representation of small computer programs that run on the Blockchain. This innovation made it possible to represent loans, bonds, assets, etc.. on the Blockchain and not just cash-like tokens.

Applications

Over the years, the Blockchain has had various applications. There is still a lot more to discover! We all know about Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and recently SBTs, but there’s much more to the Blockchain than just that.

Let’s explore some of these applications!

Digital IDs

Using Blockchain, a person can create a fully immutable public digital ID. It serves as a record-keeping technique that is more reliable, secure, and trusted. Individuals can have full control over their digital data without it being tampered with or used without their consent.

Voting

Utilizing an individual’s digital ID, a new voting mechanism is possible. This way we can prevent tampered votes, ensure that only eligible people are voting, make sure no one votes twice, and make it easier to vote since it’s one button click away.

Secured Database & Data Sharing Tool

Let’s recall that the initial tool of Bitcoin’s Blockchain was a public ledger to store data (transactions). Medical institutions worldwide are using the Blockchain as a secure medical data storage and sharing tool, this way medical professionals can access accurate non-tempered up-to-date data about their patients. This also provides the power of accessing the data faster which is important in some medical cases, and that all doctors can access the same patient’s data.

And indeed, the applications of the Blockchain are endless. We’re still only scratching the surface. Let’s not forget that without the Blockchain, Web3 wouldn’t exist. That is why its potential is enormous. Some applications will die and some others will emerge again, trends too will die and some born again. As for Blockchain, it will stay, evolve, and change the future to come.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store