“[Blockchain] is to Bitcoin, what the internet is to email. A big electronic system, on top of which you can build applications. Currency is just one.” Sally Davies, FT Technology Reporter
Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.
Originally built as the accounting technology behind the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, Blockchains are appearing in a variety of commercial applications today. A blockchain basically is just a chain of blocks, where the blocks store units of data. In Bitcoin’s blockchain, this data was of the transactions. With Ethereum’s revolution in the blockchain technology, the creation of smart contracts this data can now be literally anything.
Doing so creates a permanent and indestructible record that cannot be altered. The record’s authenticity, on the other hand, can be verified by the entire community of nodes using the blockchain, instead of a single centralized authority. The blockchain database is shared by all nodes participating in a system. Upon joining the network, each connected computer receives a copy of the blockchain, which has records, and stands as proof of every transaction ever executed.
Blockchain.info provides access to the entire Bitcoin blockchain.
The potential applications for blockchain technology are almost without limit. At the moment, several of these applications are still either in the development stage or in beta testing. With more money being poured into blockchain-based startups, consumers should not be surprised to see DLT services and products becoming more mainstream in the near future.