I won't delve too deeply into the history of Bitcoin or its hordes of both unique and flash-in-the-pan spinoffs, but I do want to point out that you can't actually mine Bitcoin with regular computers anymore. It requires specialized and expensive hardware called ASICs. However, you can mine other coins and convert them to Bitcoin through a variety of exchanges and services. You can also earn Bitcoin by "lending" your computer's processing power to services like NiceHash which pay out in Bitcoin. But that's another rabbit hole for another time!
A notable example of this was FBI’s shutdown of the ‘’Silk Road’’ marketplace. The website had over 10,000 products for sale, 70% of which were drugs that are illegal in most countries. Around 340 different varieties of drugs were offered on the site. The site functioned as an ‘’Ebay for drugs’’, connecting buyers with sellers and not doing any dealing themselves.
Jump up ^ "Bitcoin: The Cryptoanarchists' Answer to Cash". IEEE Spectrum. Archived from the original on 4 June 2012. Around the same time, Nick Szabo, a computer scientist who now blogs about law and the history of money, was one of the first to imagine a new digital currency from the ground up. Although many consider his scheme, which he calls “bit gold,” to be a precursor to Bitcoin
Since these blocks are heavily encrypted, they're sort of like complicated math puzzles that only powerful compute-capable hardware can solve. Enter your CPU, or your Radeon and GeForce graphics cards. The process of solving the math puzzles on these blocks and adding them to the public blockchain (think of it as a ledger) is roughy what mining is.
Bitcoin trading really is not much different to any other asset you can trade - maybe just a bit more volatile, but that is a good thing if you want to trade it! You will have to devide whether or not to trade the asset (bitcoin) itself or some derivative (financial “bet”). I recommend the latter as it allows you to participate in both bull and bear markets. If you simply buy the asset (Bitcoin) you can only participate in rising prices. The derivative also allows you to leverage your position. Having that said : LEVERAGE IS A DOUBLE SIDED SWORD! Whenever you trade with leverage make sure you are mentally ready to lose everything that is on your trading account (in other words: make sure not to put too much money on your trading account). Moreover, do not trade something you do not understand!
Aside from the exchanges, you can also buy bitcoins on ebay and similar auction sites. Keep in mind that due to the possibility for chargebacks and fraud, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies trade at a premium on ebay. Face to face meetups are another option to acquire bitcoins. Checklocalbitcoins.com for bitcoin sellers and buyers near your area. Always exercise caution when doing an offline exchange. Meet during the daytime and in places with a lot of people around. If possible, bring a friend.
At the time when this guide was written, January 2014, the price of one bitcoin stood at $913, down slightly after reaching an all-time high of over $1,200 earlier in December. The new cryptocurrency came a long way from trading below $4 just two years ago. Major online and offline retailers are starting to add the new currency as a payment method. But what exactly is bitcoin?