What is bitcoin and the blockchain?
A list of articles, blog posts, videos, books and courses to help get you started.
As bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies have become more popular, we’ve gotten more and more requests from people seeking suggestions for how to learn about the technology.
In pulling together this list of starter articles, blog posts, books and courses, we’ve found that most people are initially willing to invest about 30–45 minutes to learn about cryptocurrencies. That can then ignite enough curiosity to invest another 2–3 hours — and then they’re off to the races.
Feel free to share this list with others. Over the last year, members of the Digital Currency Initiative have sent it to several hundred people — from finance ministers to longtime developers interested in the cryptocurrency space and, as a result, have seen them change their policy position or even change jobs.
This list of articles is by no means exhaustive; it’s a living document. Feel free to suggest your favorite ethereum, smart contracts, regulatory and DAO explainer articles (email@example.com) or create your own list and share it with the community!
Overviews (30–45 mins)
- Why Bitcoin Matters by Marc Andreessen
- Why the Blockchain Matters by Reid Hoffman
- How Does Bitcoin Work? (video) by David Andolfatto
- Programmable Blockchains in Context: Ethereum’s Future by Vinay Gupta
- The Blockchain Application Stack by Joel Monegro
- The Shared Data Layer on The Blockchain Application Stack by Joel Monegro
- How Bitcoin Is Like SMTP by Joel Monegro
- How The Blockchain Can Unshackle Us by Jalak Jobanputra
- The Non-Expert’s Guide to the Mt. Gox Fiasco by Arianna Simpson
Applications (60–90 mins)
- Some ideas for native bitcoin apps by Chris Dixon
- Certificates, Reputation and the Blockchain by Philipp Schmidt
- Bitcoin Fact. Fiction. Future. by Tiffany Wan & Max Hoblitzell
- State-Sponsored Cryptocurrency: Adapting the best of Bitcoin’s Innovation to the Payments Ecosystem by Deloitte
- Elizabeth Rossiello Describes How BitPesa Slashes International Payment Fees by Laura Shin
- Bitcoin Overview & Applications (video) by Brian Forde
- How the blockchain will enable self-service government by Brian Forde & Michael Casey
- Can Bitcoin Be Used For Good? by Chelsea Barabas & Ethan Zuckerman
- Want to rent Star Wars? May the force be with you… by Brian Forde
Technical Overviews (2–4 hours)
- Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System by Satoshi Nakamoto
- Bitcoin: The new gold rush? by Val Srinivas
- Bitcoin And Blockchain: Two Revolutions For The Price Of One? by Richard Gendal Brown
- How the Bitcoin protocol actually works by Michael Nielsen
- Network Security and Proof of Work: Do We Need an Alternative? by Arianna Simpson
- Research Perspectives and Challenges for Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies by Joseph Bonneau, Andrew Miller, Jeremy Clark, Arvind Narayanan, Joshua A. Kroll, Edward W. Felten
Books (1–2 days each)
- Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
- The Age of CryptoCurrency by Michael Casey, Paul Vigna
- Blockchain Revolution by Don and Alex Tapscott
- Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper
Bitcoin Course & Textbook (4–5 weeks)
- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies (course) at Princeton University
- Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies (textbook), by Arvind Narayanan, Joseph Bonneau, Edward W. Felten, Andrew Miller, Steven Goldfeder