The First Blockchain Was Actually Built in the 1990s

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  • In 1996, a cryptographer launched Timesec and it is technically the first real blockchain

Bitcoin was the first true cryptocurrency, but Satoshi Nakamoto did not invent the concept of blockchain. Instead, Satoshi built upon and improved previous technological ideas, including the blockchain technology that Jean-Jacques Quisquater developed in 1996. Indeed, the Bitcoin white paper actually references Quisquater’s paper ‘Design of a secure timestamping service with minimal trust requirements’, making his paper one of only eight studies referenced by the Bitcoin white paper.

Originally Quisquater was thinking about developing a digital version of a notary, and that idea eventually progressed into the concept behind blockchain. Specifically, he wanted to use cryptographic hash functions to register messages in a secure way without the need for a centralized authority, and this is indeed what a blockchain basically is.

The cryptographer went on to launch Timesec in 1996, which was a project that aimed to develop secure digital time. Project Timesec ultimately led to the world’s first blockchain, which had blocks that were chained with two secure hash functions.

Thus, blockchain technology has actually been around for well over 20 years, although it didn’t gain much popularity until Bitcoin began to proliferate in the 2010s.

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