The abstract to the original (2008) Bitcoin paper by Satoshi Nakamoto:
A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they’ll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers. The network itself requires minimal structure. Messages are broadcast on a best effort basis, and nodes can leave and rejoin the network at will, accepting the longest proof-of-work chain as proof of what happened while they were gone.
Essential Reading (See also ‘Documents’ below)
Shelling Out, Nick Szabo (2002)
An Epic List of Bitcoin Research (English).
Bitcoin Days Destroyed (explanation)
Bitcoin Developer Documentation.
Bitcoin Technology (Reddit).
SNI Mempool Crash Course in Bitcoin Political Economy (Bitstein).
The Bitcoin Central Bank’s Perfect Monetary Policy, Pierre Rochard, Satoshi Nakamoto Institute, 2013/12/15.
Bitcoin isn’t Money—It’s the Internet of Money, Eli Dourado, The Ümlaut, 2014/01/08.
Can Namecoin Obsolete ICANN (and More)? Eli Dourado, The Ümlaut, 2014/02/05.
Bitcoin: Both Buffett and Andreessen are right, Fortune, 2014/03/27
Hyperbitcoinization, Daniel Krawisz, Satoshi Nakamoto Institute, 2014/03/29.
Marc Andreessen: In 20 years, we’ll talk about Bitcoin like we talk about the Internet today, Brian Fung, The Washington Post, 2014/05/21.
Visions of a Techno-Leviathan: The Politics of the Bitcoin Blockchain, Brett Scott, 2014/06/01.
Legacy of the Dread Pirate Roberts, Daniel Krawisz, CryptoBiz Magazine, 2014/06/26.
Speculative Attack, Pierre Rochard, Satoshi Nakamoto Institute, 2014/07/04.
Bitcoin and block-chain could transform the world, Matt Ridley, 2014/10/09.
Why Bitcoin is and isn’t like the Internet, Joichi Ito, 2015/01/18.
Bitcoin and the Digital-Currency Revolution, Michael J. Caset and Paul Vigna, WSJ, 2015/01/23.
‘Cheetahs’: Africa’s Young Minds Embrace Bitcoin, Cointelegraph, 2015/02/07.
Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Satoshi Nakamoto (2008).
The Complete Satoshi (Bitcoin paper and emails).
Bitcoin: A Primer for Policymakers. Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo, 2013/08/19.
Dai/Nakamoto emails. Gwern, 2014/03/17.
Crypto Glossary. Timothy C. May and Eric Hughes, 1992/11/22.
Autopoietic Social Structures.
Litecoin. (Silver to Bitcoin’s gold.)
Truthcoin. (Prediction markets.)
Dark Wallet. (“It’s just money laundering software.”)
Blockchain-based assurance contracts.
Proof of existence.
Blockchain-based genetic back-ups.
Blockchain-based data storage.
Enabling Blockchain Innovations with Pegged Sidechains. Multiple authors, 22/10/2014. (More here.)
Bitcoins are not just good money, they are the best money. The Bitcoin network has the best monetary policy and the best brand. We should therefore expect that bitcoins will drive out bad, weak currencies. By what process will bitcoins become the dominant currency? Which fiat currencies will the first to disappear? These are the interesting questions of the day, as the necessary premises for these questions are already established truths.
With bitcoin under so much pressure, how could it possibly become as all-powerful and all-reaching as Skynet? […] The answer is pretty simple: it’s not about bitcoin as a currency. It’s about bitcoin as a technology, a highly-distributed, leaderless, jurisdictionless, identityless, nearly anonymous decentralized architecture for managing ownership.
“Dark Wallet is a way to reify that [FBI] nightmare and give it back to them,” says [Cody] Wilson. “There is a ‘go dark’ problem, and we’re going to have it with bitcoin. That’s what bitcoin is for. That’s what we want to see.”
Bitcoin really is one of the most important inventions ever made in the entire history of the world.