The Era of Digital Currency: How It All Began

The Era of Digital Currency: How It All Began

By SimpleSwap | SimpleSwap Blog | 25 Jun 2024

As of 2024, digital money is no longer a novelty. The crypto economy has undergone phases of denial, rejection, fear, and distrust from the general public and is now gradually permeating all aspects of daily life. Although the spotlight on digital decentralized currency shone brightly around five years ago, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent surge in cashless payments, the foundations for its creation were laid much earlier. Let's revisit the origins.

Money Nobody Wanted

In the 1990s, the ideas of scientist David Chaum were met with skepticism. He was the first to introduce the concept of digital money to the world.

At the time, Chaum was a graduate student in the computer science department at the University of California, Berkeley. Among friends and like-minded individuals, he was known as an enthusiastic inventor. In 1983, the young cryptographer published a paper titled "Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments," where he described the concept of "blind signatures" and the "digital envelope," the precursors to modern cryptographic encryption. Through these mechanisms, Chaum aimed to achieve anonymity in transactions, which he believed was crucial for creating a trustworthy system.

Privacy was Chaum's top priority. He argued that traditional systems lacked this crucial aspect: banks could violate the privacy of user funds and track their movements at will. Security issues remain, as fraudsters only need to hack one block to gain access to multiple wallets.

In 1989, David Chaum founded his own company, DigiCash Inc., and released electronic money based on his innovations. Unfortunately, the public failed to appreciate his invention, and the company went bankrupt within ten years. "No one needs your electronic money," Chaum was told, completely misunderstanding that his incredibly advanced technology was simply ahead of its time.

David Chaum is often called the "father of cryptocurrency." In the 1980s, he wrote several papers on cryptography, including detailed descriptions of the blockchain concept. Decades later, Satoshi Nakamoto would echo these ideas in the Bitcoin whitepaper. Of course, in 1982, Chaum couldn't create a cryptocurrency because he lacked one essential component – the proof-of-work mechanism, which was invented later in 1999. By 2008, Nakamoto had all the necessary knowledge and skills to spark an economic revolution.

Nick Szabo and Satoshi Nakamoto: Who Created Bitcoin?

Bitcoin (BTC), the first cryptocurrency in the world, officially appeared in 2008, thanks to Satoshi Nakamoto. This documented version is accepted by most, but some crypto enthusiasts still have doubts. A faction believes that the real creator of the first cryptocurrency should be Nick Szabo, a cryptographer and creator of the Bit Gold standard.

In 1998, Szabo introduced the Bit Gold project, one of the earliest attempts to create a decentralized digital currency. The technology combined elements of cryptography, mining, decentralization principles, timestamped blocks, and the proof-of-work mechanism. Essentially, this could have been the standard for Bitcoin and the first blockchain, but the Bit Gold project was never implemented.

Szabo developed his project because he saw how the traditional financial system struggled with currency turnover and lost efficiency. He also pointed out the need to move away from controlling centralized authorities. Nakamoto continued to develop these ideas, and his Bitcoin breathed new life into the ailing financial system.

A Catalyst for Cryptocurrency: The Dot-Com Bubble

At the end of the 20th century, the economic sphere witnessed an event that cost approximately $5 trillion. "The Dot-com bubble burst," wrote everyone. It sounds confusing and frightening, and indeed, it was.

Between 1995 and 2001, during the peak of the Internet's popularity and its astonishing potential, numerous IT startups emerged online. These ranged from high-quality to mediocre, small to large, speculative, and even more speculative. The mass hysteria fueled by unwarranted optimism and the intoxication with the new possibilities of the World Wide Web culminated in a massive crisis, resulting in $5 trillion in losses in market capitalization.

The Dot-com Bubble was characterized by the explosive growth of Internet companies and the subsequent burst of speculative investments. This period saw the widespread enthusiasm for the Internet and its potential, leading to the creation of numerous tech startups. Although many of these companies eventually failed, the era was marked by significant technological innovations that laid the foundation for digital currencies.


  • Crypto advances. The late 1990s saw significant advancements in cryptography, the backbone of modern digital currencies. Innovations like public-key cryptography and hash functions were critical in ensuring secure transactions and data integrity, laying the groundwork for blockchain technology.
  • Digital payment systems. Early attempts at creating digital payment systems, such as David Chaum's DigiCash, emerged during this period. While DigiCash ultimately failed due to a lack of widespread adoption and business challenges, it introduced the concept of secure, anonymous digital transactions.
  • Smart contracts. Nick Szabo introduced the idea of smart contracts in the late 1990s. These self-executing agreements with terms directly written into code would later become a key feature of blockchain platforms.

In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, the first successful decentralized digital currency. Bitcoin used many cryptographic ideas and decentralized concepts from the Dot-com era, sparking a new age in digital finance and leading to the creation of thousands of other cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies.


The era of digital currencies opens up vast opportunities for investors and users alike. The economic structure is gradually transforming, delighting those who understand the necessity of progress and do not fear it.

From the early days of David Chaum's visionary ideas to the technological boom of the Dot-com Bubble, and finally to the groundbreaking creation of Bitcoin, digital currencies have come a long way. This journey has been marked by incredible technological advances and the pioneering spirit of innovators who dared to think differently.

The advent of digital money resulted from technological advances in the last quarter of the 20th century, and the development of decentralization marked the dawn of a new millennium with its new rules. Now, digital currencies need support and promotion, as analysts predict they are poised to make another revolutionary shift.

If you want to learn more interesting facts about crypto then check out our blog! You might like our articles “NFT and Publishing Industry: From Books to Articles” and “The Evolution of Digital Transactions: Devices and Systems in Wallets”.

The easiest way to buy, sell or exchange coins is to use SimpleSwap services.
SimpleSwap reminds you that this article is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide investment advice. All purchases and cryptocurrency investments are your own responsibility.

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