Most people only heard of bitcoin and other digital currencies in the last couple of years. But digital currencies (some call them cryptocurrencies) can be traced back 10 years, according to this article. I think digital currencies could have a substantial role some day, if a way is found to make their values relative to other things stable. In the meantime their greatest value is as examples of how blockchain technology can be used to change everyday activities people take for granted.
That was the first email in a series of messages sent by Satoshi Nakamoto, the presumed pseudonym adopted by the creator of bitcoin, in a proposal for a payment system that is completely anonymous running on a decentralized distributed ledger, known as the blockchain.
Today, there are over 2,000 cryptocurrencies, most of which will fail and become worthless, according to Barry Silbert, chief executive officer of the Digital Currency Group, and there are already close to 1,000 dead coins, ones that either failed before launching or have ceased operation, according to a website that tracks such failures.
But the very first digital currency is still going strong, albeit with plenty of ups and downs. Once worth less than 1 cent, a single bitcoin fetched nearly $20,000 in December 2017. Today, one bitcoin BTCUSD, -1.99% changes hands for about $6,500.