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A Brief History of Blockchain: Deciphering the Past and Present of this Technological Revolution
A Brief History of Blockchain: Deciphering the Past and Present of this Technological Revolution

A Brief History of Blockchain: Deciphering the Past and Present of this Technological Revolution

Editor | Zhao Li

Blockchain is on fire again.

Just the day before yesterday, an “internal speech” by Xu Xiaoping of the Zenith Fund was leaked, unveiling a new round of enthusiasm for blockchain in the venture capital circle.

In this “internal speech” of the WeChat group, Xu Xiaoping likened the blockchain revolution to a great technological revolution in which those who follow it will prosper and those who oppose it will die, “I appeal to everyone with all my wisdom, don’t envy the fish in the abyss, but rush to the waves “.

Almost on the same day, Fengrui Capital also broke the news of setting up a blockchain group to focus on investing in the blockchain industry, while just a few days ago, lured a former Wall Street executive to develop its U.S. market.

As if suddenly, this new continent, which has long been discovered, has become a gold rush for people to flock to.

Talking about this wave of boom, an investment manager of an investment institution said that after a whole year of blockchain and digital currency mania in 2017, the first wave of harvest period of digital currency and blockchain applications has come.

Time went back to the penultimate day of 2017, that is, December 30, when a previously non-dazzling Ripple suddenly refreshed people’s awareness, with the price climbing 55.9% at one point in less than 2 days to reach to $2.23, while only 1 month ago its price was only $0.25.

Virtual digital currency is currently one of the best application areas for blockchain technology, and even though domestic regulatory policies have clearly given the red light to ICOs and trading of digital currencies, people’s enthusiasm for blockchain technology has not waned as a result.

Blockchain has already become the second “windfall” in 2018, following the coin-tapping question. As more and more are mentioned, more and more people will ask what is blockchain.

This article is to ask you the answer.

This article is to ask you the answer.

The essence of a blockchain: a peer-to-peer bookkeeping system

A blockchain is essentially a distributed public ledger that connects blocks into a chain, effectively a peer-to-peer bookkeeping system (a master ledger) on which each point can keep a ledger (record information). (Explained in the previous article “A Brief History of Bitcoin | A look at this $30,000 digital gold.)

Traditional bookkeeping system, the bookkeeping power is only in the hands of the central server. For example, all the information on QQ and WeChat can only be booked by Tencent’s server; Taobao and Tmall can only be booked by Ali’s server.

But in the blockchain system, each computer is a node, and a node is a database (server). Any node can keep a ledger and connect directly to another point (i.e., P2P mode) without a third-party server in between. When a transaction occurs in two of the nodes, this encrypted transaction is broadcast to all other nodes (bookkeeping) with the purpose of preventing both parties to the transaction from tampering with the transaction information.

Let’s say that in a village of 100 people, Zhang San buys a cow from Li Si’s family and pays him $10,000. The common practice is that he can inform the middleman, village accountant Zhao Liu (the chief bookkeeper), to transfer 10,000 yuan from his account to Li Si’s account.

But in the blockchain system, Zhang San no longer needs to go through Zhao Liu, the chief bookkeeper, but directly credits 10,000 yuan from his own account to Li Si’s account; at the same time, the information of this transaction will be transmitted to the whole village (i.e. the whole blockchain system). When the rest of the village knows and confirms the transaction, the transaction is considered finalized. Because the transaction is encrypted, only Li Si can receive the 10,000 yuan, while the other 98 people can only see the transaction information in their accounts, but cannot see to whom the information was transferred. In addition the system can be a complete record of the transaction process, the entire transaction can be traced back to the source.

Suppose Zhang San transferred the 10,000 yuan to Wang Wu by mistake, because the transaction was encrypted, Wang Wu could not get the transferred money without the key. In addition, if Zhang San transfers the 10,000 RMB and then repeats the transfer to Li Si for 10,000 RMB, the transaction will not be valid because the other 98 people have already received the same message and will not confirm it. There is also a situation where Zhang San initiates a 10,000 yuan transfer and then suddenly regrets it and wants to privately change the 10,000 yuan transferred to 100 yuan, he needs to change the information in the accounts of the other 98 people from 10,000 to 100 yuan. If the whole network nodes are large enough, such a modification is required extremely high cost (much higher than the transaction cost), theoretically this modification is not possible.

This reflects several important features of blockchain: complete peer-to-peer, no intermediate parties; information encryption, focus on privacy; traceability of transactions; uniform information of all nodes, and non-tamperable transactions (to modify the information of one node, other nodes need to modify together).

So the problem that blockchain is trying to solve is: eliminating the intermediary credit problem. Of course Bitcoin is currently one of the best applications of blockchain technology in the field of digital currency; in addition, in the field of payment, blockchain technology can eliminate the third party and direct peer-to-peer payment, and it makes payment more secure, and the feature of traceability can regulate illegal activities such as money laundering. With the depth of research, blockchain has also started to be gradually applied in the fields of credit, copyright, notary, securities, asset management, etc.

The creation of blockchain

The concept of blockchain can be traced back to the end of 2008, when a mysterious person under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a paper in a forum called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System “, which first introduced the concept of blockchain.

The paper mentioned that in order to solve the security problem of electronic money, a timestamp server could implement a hash for a group of data in the form of a block and then add a timestamp, and broadcast the hash.Each timestamp incorporates the previous timestamp into its hash, and subsequent timestamps augment the previous ones, thus forming a “block chain.

The creation of a block can be understood as follows: since this peer-to-peer transaction needs to be recorded in a ledger, the system is set up to generate a bill (i.e., a block) every 10 minutes to record this information, but this bill (block) can only be credited to the most capable person, who proves his capability by answering an extremely complex mathematical problem (hash operation). This method is also known as “mining.

At the beginning of the puzzle, each person reserves an address in the system, and when the most capable person, A, solves the puzzle first, he gets the block and the address he reserved is automatically recorded on the block. At the same time, in order to reward him, the system will issue a certain amount of bitcoins to this reserved address. All blocks are connected together to form a blockchain.

A block is much like a database record; each time data is written, a block is created. Each block contains two parts: the Head, which records the meta information about the current block, and the Body, which records the actual data.

The meta-information of the block header, mainly the block generation time, the hash of the actual data (i.e., the block body); and the hash (hash operation value) of the previous block.

A block is not equal to a node: a node is actually a computer (server) that accesses the blockchain, and any networked computer can access the blockchain, so there are countless nodes on the blockchain; but the blocks on the blockchain are limited, i.e., one block is generated every 10 minutes, and no new ones are added after a certain number is reached. So an active (high arithmetic power) node may have bookkeeping rights for multiple blocks, while an inactive (low arithmetic power) node will have bookkeeping rights for only a small fraction of blocks.

In fact, in “mining”, there are some rules: for example, in order to ensure that the information of each node is synchronized, so the speed of adding new blocks can not be too fast, the system is designed to generate a new block every 10 minutes on average for the whole network, the output speed is not reached by command, but deliberately set a large number of calculation; in order to ensure that it is exactly 10 minutes output a block, the dynamic adjustment mechanism of the difficulty factor is designed to adjust every two weeks (2016 blocks), for example, if the average speed of block generation in two weeks is 9 minutes, the difficulty factor should be adjusted by 10%, and vice versa; if the blockchain is forked (two blocks are accessed on a block), the adoption is the first to reach six new blocks (called “six confirmations”) of the chain.

Its development went through three phases: the

gestation period: 2009-2012, the economic form was dominated by bitcoin and its industrial ecology; the

germination period: the period was 2012-2015, blockchain entered the public eye with bitcoin, nascent wallet payment and remittance companies emerged, and the blockchain economy spread to the financial sector. Blockchain underlying technology innovation continued. Blockchain technology was spun off from the Bitcoin system.

Development period: 2016 saw the exploration of industry applications and the emergence of a large number of blockchain startups. 2017’s ICO boom brought unprecedented attention to blockchain.

The value of blockchain: machine trust, value transfer, smart contract

What is the value of the blockchain generated by

? In fact this can be concluded from the characteristics of blockchain: decentralization, peer-to-peer transactions, and tamper-evident characteristics can realize machine trust; irreversible transactions and encrypted information can realize value transmission; in addition, peer-to-peer information and tamper-evident can also realize smart contracts.

Machine trust. For example, on the blockchain, there does not exist a third-party central institution, but completely relies on peer-to-peer, tamper-evident and other transaction mechanisms to ensure the trust of both parties. The tamper-evident nature of blockchain technology changes the way centralized credit is created, reducing costs and building credit through mathematical principles rather than centralized credit institutions.

Previously reported by Looking for China Creators, Bubi Blockchain’s OneNote Finance (article “Reinventing the Supply Chain Finance Model with Blockchain, How Does He Do Corporate Credit Deliverability?”) is a blockchain application project that realizes enterprise credit transferability with the help of blockchain technology.

Value Transfer. Blockchain is the first network that enables value transfer: on the one hand, simple value transfer allows digital assets to circulate freely on the blockchain; on the other hand, tokens are issued to make financing more convenient, while holders can also enjoy the services of the entire ecology (for example, a token is based on a blockchain application, and owning a token means owning application services).

Smart Contract. This term, recorded in computer language rather than legal language, refers to the combination of electronic contracts with blockchain technology, where a smart contract executes the corresponding contractual terms when a pre-programmed condition is triggered.

For example, when company A signs a contract with company B that provides for automatic payment for product delivery in 3 months. When the condition (after 3 months, product delivery) is triggered the contract is automatically executed and the money is paid directly to the other party’s account.

The benefit of this type of smart contract is that on the one hand, it reduces the cost of signing, execution and compliance costs, etc., especially in the case of a large number of daily transactions; on the other hand, it also prevents unilateral breach of contract and guarantees that the contract is executed as specified.

Disadvantages of blockchain

In fact blockchain as an emerging technology, the value certainly exists, but it also reveals some disadvantages.

One of them is the low efficiency. Data written to the blockchain, at least ten minutes to wait, all nodes are synchronized data, it takes more time. Take Bitcoin for example, the validity of the current transactions generated is affected by the network transmission, and each Bitcoin transaction does take about 10 minutes, and one hour for six confirmations. Thus blockchain transaction data is delayed.

its secondIt’s energy consumption. The generation of blocks requires miners to perform countless meaningless calculations, which is very energy-intensive. According to forecasts provided by POWER-COMPARE, a UK-based power information network, bitcoin mining and trading will consume the same amount of electricity as the world does today by 2020. While this figure is questionable, the “mining farms” hidden in the mountains are a real indication of how energy-intensive this business can be.

In addition, in the blockchain public chain, every participant has access to a full backup of data, and all transaction data is public and transparent. If you want to know the account and transaction information of some business organization, you can know all his wealth and also important assets and trade secrets, etc. It is difficult to guarantee privacy.

Of course, the decentralized and autonomous nature of blockchain dilutes the concept of state regulation. In some cases where regulation cannot reach, the profit-seeking nature of the market and other characteristics can lead to the application of blockchain technology in illegal areas, providing a refuge for the black industry.

Blockchain applications

But even with the development up to now, the best application area of blockchain at present is still in crypto digital currency, and the wave of ICO boom in 2017 also shows from one side that this wave of application has reached a new stage. In terms of industrial applications, it is in its infancy. Nevertheless, more and more technology companies are also adding blockchain projects.

with some blockchain project applications


Established: 2018.1.02

Application area: social platform and blockchain


Content: RenRen provides an open source blockchain platform for social networks, using a decentralized ledger to record the interactions of all participants in social networks, and using smart contract technology to implement and constrain the transaction behavior of participants in specific scenarios in social networks.

RRCoin is a digital crypto virtual currency formulated for social network incentives and consumption behaviors based on blockchain and smart contract technology. On this blockchain-implemented social platform, RRCoin serves as a token to provide an operational medium for the platform’s smart contracts and transaction behaviors, which are applied in scenarios such as live streaming, commercial promotion, social games, and wallet applications. Users, PGCs, developers, advertisers, platform parties, etc. can obtain or pay RRCoin in the system.


Established: 2018.1

Application areas: pet games and blockchain

Affiliation: netease

Contents: the domain name is already online. The official website home page shows “Blockchain pet cat, limited collection, will be opened soon! . The industry said that Netease Zhaocai Cat limited sale “Zhaocai Cat”, currently 5000 gold coins / only, each person is limited to 2, but the details of the game, characteristics are currently completely unknown.

chain gram

Founded: 2017.4

Application: video industry and blockchain

Affiliation: Xunlei

Content: chain gram is a native blockchain-based digital asset under the Xunlei Players Cloud shared computing ecology. The process of generating it is strongly related to the economic application of Playcloud smart hardware and shared CDN, which must be obtained by sharing network bandwidth, storage space and other resources through Playcloud smart hardware. Formerly known as “Players Coin”, Players Cloud was officially released in August 2017, marking the addition of blockchain technology to shared computing, and also marking Xunlei’s launch of blockchain C-side applications. With the help of blockchain technology, Xunlei issues “chain grams” to users who share idle resources such as bandwidth, storage and computing power through Playcloud smart hardware, establishing a fair and transparent reward mechanism to motivate ordinary individuals to participate in the sharing and exchange of data resources.

In addition, Storm and Crypto are also rumored to be laying out in this field. Storm launched “Broadcast Cloud” in December 2017, based on which users can use their idle storage space and bandwidth to earn BFC points. In August 2017, Fansoft launched “Traffic Ore”, a blockchain-based distributed shared CDN platform.





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Founded: not released

Application area: e-commerce and blockchain

Content: On March 24, 2017, Alibaba and PwC reached a cooperation to use blockchain to create a transparent and traceable cross-border food supply chain and build a more safe food market. Currently, Alipay, a subsidiary of Ant Financial Services, has used blockchain technology for charitable purposes, and the financial details of every payment made by donors will be in the blockchain.

In addition, Jingdong, and Meitu are also said to be launching e-commerce and blockchain products. Sources say that Jingdong’s blockchain has been laid out for six months, landing in anti-counterfeiting traceability and food safety; Meitu’s blockchain business includes beauty e-commerce counterfeiting and community building aspects.

Golden Red Packet

Established: not released

Application area: payment and blockchain

Affiliation: Tencent

Content: internal testing of the Golden Red Packet, has begun to apply blockchain technology for digital assets in parallel bookkeeping, which improves the efficiency of internal multiple system space reconciliation and protects user asset security from the bottom.


Founded: not released

Application area: marketing and blockchain

Content: Xiaomi marketing data chain, is a chain that can support the logic of data on the chain and the chain of privateA data collaboration platform with secure data interaction has been launched for the needs and pain points of the marketing industry with two major features: full data matching and co-construction of Panel.

full data matching, i.e., by establishing a network collaboration between advertisers and media, ensures that both parties can only see the common part of data and the other data is not visible to anyone. This maximizes data asset protection, reduces trust costs for both parties, and eliminates efficiency issues due to third parties.

Common Panel is a blockchain network that decentralizes the connection of various data sources for data collaboration, improves the efficiency of multi-party collaboration, maximizes the protection of each party’s data assets, and provides evidence of data authenticity and collaboration events, allowing the entire network to operate automatically.

In terms of functional implementation, various brands in industries including mother and child e-commerce, finance, and automotive are currently collaborating with Xiaomi Marketing Data Chain.


Established: not published

Application area: search engine and blockchain

Content: not published

OneNote Financial

Established: 2016

Application areas: supply chain finance and blockchain

Affiliation: Bubi Blockchain

Content: OneNote Finance is a blockchain-based supply chain financial services platform, using blockchain non-tamperable, multi-party shared distributed ledger features, innovative blockchain technology and supply chain The combination of blockchain technology and supply chain finance, the traditional enterprise trade process of credit sales, using blockchain technology to convert into a detachable, flowable, can be held to maturity, can be financed blockchain bookkeeping credentials.

Cloud Elephant Blockchain

Founded: 2014.10

Application area: enterprise-level blockchain technology service platform

Affiliation: Cloud Elephant Blockchain

Content: aims to build the world’s leading enterprise-level block Chain technology service platform, has released the cloud elephant BaaS platform has advantages in performance, security, privacy, interface richness, etc., service areas include finance, supply chain, real estate registration, credit collection, etc.