Quote from Satoshi Nakamoto c2010
Alot of people automatically dismiss e-currency as a lost cause because of all the companies that failed since the 1990's. I hope it's obvious it was only the centrally controlled nature of those systems that doomed them. I think this is the first time we're trying a decentralized, non-trust-based system.
David Chaum lead the first serious attempt at building digital money, founding the electronic money corporation DigiCash Inc in 1989. DigiCash used novel cryptography to unsure user privacy while solving the double spend problem. The underlying algorithm was known as eCash, first published in 1982 and later improved by later cryptographers. It lost out in user adoption against credit cards and less private payment systems like PayPal. DigiCash declared bankruptcy in 1998.
Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow was a startup company founded by Jim McCoy to create MojoNation. Mojo was a digital cash currency.The only application built onEGTP/Mojo framework was a distributed file publishing system. MojoNation ceased operation as a commercial enterprise in February 2004, when it was replaced by the noncommercial Mnet Project. Former employees Bram Cohen went on to create BitTorrent and Zooko Wilcox-O'Hearn created Mnet out of the MojoNation source code.
First proposed Adam Back in 1997 and described more formally in the paper "Hashcash- A Denial of Service Counter-Measure". Hashcash is a Proof-of-Work system used to limit email spam and denial-of-service attacks.
The system was launched in 1996 as a digital gold currency and grew to 5 million accounts by 2009 when transfers were suspended due to legal issues. Founded by oncologist Douglas Jackson and attorney Barry Downey. The pair originally backed the services accounts with gold coins stored in a bank safe deposit box in Melbourne, Florida.
An early proposal created by Wei Dai for an "anonymous, distributed electronic system". Published on the Cypherpunks mailing list in November 1998. Satoshi Nakamoto referenced b-money when creating Bitcoin.
In 1998 Nick Szabo designed a mechanism for a decentralised digital currency he called Bit gold. Bit gold was never implemented. The phrase and concept of "smart contracts" was developed by Nick. Nick has been a Satoshi contender.
Founded by Arthur Budovsky (Gold Age 2001-2006) after fleeing the US and settling in Costa Rica. Liberty Reserve, a centralised digital currency service, was incorporated by Arthur Budovsky in Costa Rica in 2006. May 2013 saw Liberty Reserve shut down by US federal prosecutors under the Patriot Act for money laundering and operating an unlicensed financial transaction company.
A Timeline of Pre-Requisite Developments to Bitcoin's Blockchain
1979 : Hash Tree
1980 : public key crytography
1991 : cryptographic timestamps
1992-1993 : Proof-of-Work for spam
1997 : HashCash
1998 - 2003 : Nick Szabo, Bit Gold - concept of smart contracts - MojoNation/BitTorrent - Karma
1998 : b-money, Wei Dai
1999 - present : P2P networks
1999 - present : Byzantine fault tolerance (PBFT etc.)
2001 : SHA-256 finalised
Some Other forms of Virtual Currencies
This document is live, I will be updating as I find more relevant information.
Please feel free to give your feedback in the "Comments". I won't be offended. Hopefully I can learn something.