Before getting into the depths of blockchains, it might be quite insightful for you to know how the concept of blockchains came into existence. In this module, we will make sure that you will glean maximum insights about the background of blockchains.
In 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta wanted to implement a system where document timestamps could not be tampered with, they ideated the concept of a cryptographically secured chain of blocks. The following year, they collaborated with Bayer to incorporate Merkle trees or Hash trees.
PS: ‘Merkle Tree’ was named after Ralph Merkle who patented them for the first time in 1979.
An example of a binary hash tree. Hashes 0-0 and 0-1 are the hash values of data blocks L1 and L2, respectively, and hash 0 is the hash of the concatenation of hashes 0-0 and 0-1.
Recursively defined as a binary tree of hash lists where the parent node is the hash of its children, and leaf nodes are hashes of the original data blocks, Merkle trees are the first instance of any blockchain implementation. Merkle trees are used to create a ‘secured chain of blocks‘—a series of data records, each connected to the one before it. The newest record in this chain would contain the history of the entire chain. This is how blockchain was created.
Further in 2008, an individual (or a group of individuals) that go by the name Satoshi Nakamato conceptualized the theory of distributed blockchains. Improving the design in a unique way to add blocks to the initial chain without requiring them to be signed by trusted parties, Nakamato revolutionized the whole space. The modified trees would contain a secure history of data exchanges, utilize a peer-to-peer network for timestamping and verifying each exchange, and could be managed autonomously without a central authority. The improvements made by Nakamato were so rudimentary and beneficial that blockchains have now become the backbone of cryptocurrencies. Today, the design serves as the public ledger for all transactions in the cryptocurrency space.
In due course of time, the cryptocurrency blockchain file size has grown from 20 GB to 100 GB. The evolution of blockchains has been steady and promising. According to a recent study by Gartner, about 1 percent of all CIOs have indicated the incorporation of blockchains in their organizations, and around 8 percent of all CIOs are looking forward to actively implement blockchains in their organizational infrastructure.
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