Understanding Bitcoin: How it works.

Bitcoin Jul 9, 2024

Understanding Bitcoin

Imagine Bitcoin as a giant digital spreadsheet (ledger) that anyone can access and add information to. Instead of being stored in one place, this spreadsheet is duplicated and stored on thousands of computers worldwide. Each entry on this spreadsheet represents a transaction—when someone sends Bitcoin to another person, it's recorded on this ledger.

How Bitcoin Works

  1. Transactions: Let's say Alice wants to send 1 Bitcoin to Bob. She initiates the transaction, which is broadcasted to the Bitcoin network.
  2. Verification: Miners are like the auditors or accountants of this digital spreadsheet. They collect all pending transactions, verify them to ensure they're valid and not duplicated (to prevent fraud), and then bundle them into a "block."
  3. Mining: To add this block to the ledger (spreadsheet), miners compete to solve a complex mathematical puzzle. It's like a race to find the solution first. The winner gets to add the block to the ledger and is rewarded with newly created Bitcoins as well as transaction fees.
  4. Blockchain: Each block contains a reference (hash) to the previous block, forming a chain. This chain of blocks is called the blockchain. It ensures that the ledger is tamper-proof—changing one block would require changing all subsequent blocks, which is practically impossible due to the computational effort needed.

Usability of Bitcoin

Bitcoin serves several purposes in the digital economy:

  • Peer-to-Peer Payments: Users can send and receive Bitcoin globally without intermediaries, making transactions faster and cheaper compared to traditional banking systems.
  • Store of Value: Some view Bitcoin as a digital gold—a hedge against inflation and a store of value in volatile markets.
  • Remittances: Bitcoin facilitates cross-border remittances, allowing users to send money internationally with reduced fees and faster processing times.
  • Investment: Many individuals and institutions invest in Bitcoin as a speculative asset, aiming to benefit from its potential price appreciation over time.

How to Mine Bitcoin

Bitcoin mining is the process by which new Bitcoins enter circulation and transactions are validated on the blockchain. Here’s a simplified explanation:

  1. Mining Nodes: Miners use specialized computers (nodes) to solve complex mathematical puzzles.
  2. Verification: These puzzles validate and secure transactions on the network. Miners compete to solve these puzzles first.
  3. Block Reward: The first miner to solve the puzzle and add a new block to the blockchain receives a reward in the form of newly minted Bitcoins and transaction fees.
  4. Proof of Work: Mining involves a proof-of-work mechanism, where miners must demonstrate computational effort to validate transactions and maintain the network’s security.


Bitcoin revolutionizes how we think about money and transactions. It's decentralized, transparent, and operates independently of traditional financial systems. Understanding Bitcoin's analogy to a global spreadsheet and the role of miners helps demystify its complex workings in the digital economy.