Blockchain Origins

Singularity to Multiverse

A series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 discussing his “Galactic Network” concept where he envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site. Licklider was the first head of the computer research program at DARPA, starting in October 1962. While at DARPA Lickleder was able to convince MIT researcher Lawrence G. Roberts, of the importance of this networking concept. Foreseeing Lickleder’s vision, Roberts published his plan of the “APRANET” which was later structured into the “INTERNET”.

This beautiful invention led to endless possibilities, quite of which we are aware of today but this digital multiverse had some dark edges which needed to be strengthened with some star dust. It took almost 24 years from the birth of the internet for scientists to introduce an immutability feature to this digital multiverse. This was the seed sowed in the year 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stronetta through the paper, which these gentlemen publish in the Journal of Cryptology named as “How to time-stamp a digital document” . This paper proposed computationally practical procedures for digital time-stamping of documents so that it is infeasible for a user either to back-date or to forward-date his document, even with the collusion of a time-stamping service. We live in a world where all text, audio, picture, and video documents are in digital form on easily modifiable media, a method to make such documents immutable was the utter need of the internet and its users. This was the very first footprints of the work on cryptographically secured chain of blocks and this is how the concept of blockchain was born. A blockchain is nothing but a distributed database that is used to maintain a continuously growing list of records, called blocks. Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block.

The first implementation of this technology, called “blockchain technology,” “distributed ledger technology,” or simply “DLT,” was done by an anonymous group or an individual under an alias “Satoshi Nakamoto” through a white paper with header “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” where a decentralised system for currencies (or a globally unified currency)was proposed as an alternative to the fiat currency which shook the financial systems of the world till their core, basically it cuts the middle man or so-called trusted third party or Banks. We will be writing more on this segment in a different post. Although, this technology, called “blockchain technology,” is just as good at clearing and settling transactions in other assets as for bitcoins. Indeed, it might be even better. What other assets? Securities, commodities, deeds to property, ownership of artwork, even medical records. The potential of this technology has been widely recognized. Foreseeing the potential this technology has, it is pretty must nostalgic to what the internet was considered in the early 90’s and since this particular technology will be a building block for a better, secure and transparent construct of the future of the Internet, the possibilities remain indefinite.