I know most people on this sub refer to BTC as the king of crypto. But I don't think most people are aware that there were a few cryptos that came along and built the foundation for BTC. So I did some reading and hope to share it with you guys. I hope there will be some ultra-veterans here in this sub and I would absolutely love to hear some of the experiences using some of these cryptos.
E-cash withdrawal interface
Developed by David Chaum, who is considered the father of cryptocurrency, in 1982. He published the first idea of anonymous digital money in a paper titled Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments and launched E-Cash from his company DigiCash in 1994. E-Cash utilised RSA Blind Signatures to encrypt the digital money, so it cannot be read by anyone other than the owner. There were actually a lot of institutional interest in E-Cash back in the days, where Deustche Bank, Credit Suisse and many others signed deals with DigiCash to use E-Cash on their platform. However, only one small bank, Mark Twain Bank, ever implemented it as a product on its platform. DigiCash went bankrupt in 1998 and was sold to eCash Technologies. If you Google E-cash, you will likely stumble upon this crypto, but it has nothing to do with David Chaum.
Around 1998, a computer engineer by the name of Wei Dai introduced B-Money as a form of anonymous electronic cash system. He described B-Money as “a scheme for a group of untraceable digital pseudonyms to pay each other with money and to enforce contracts amongst themselves without outside help.” and also quoted that he envisioned digital currency to be part of a “crypto-anarchy“. As you can infer from his statement, B-Money is probably the closest predecessor of BTC and you are right. Satoshi Nakamoto actually sent emails to Wei Dai to express his interest in B-Money and his own whitepaper for BTC took inspiration from Wei Dai's work. B-Money was never implemented but its spirit lived on in Bitcoin. Another fun fact related to this is that gas (Gwei) for Ethereum is named after Wei Dai to pay homage to his contributions.
There was a particular movement, Cypherpunks, amongst computer engineers and privacy advocates in the 1990s who wanted to use cryptography to make currency more secure and trustless. Nick Szabo was one of these cypherpunks and developed Bit Gold with many of the characteristics of Bitcoin like peer-to-peer networking, mining, Proof-of-Work, a public ledger, cryptography etc. In fact, Bit Gold biggest breakthrough was a shift towards decentralization and the idea of using computers to solve cryptographic puzzles (mining). Due to its similarities to Bitcoin, many speculated that Nick Szabo was actually Satoshi Nakamoto, but he denied it.
Adam Back developed HashCash in 1997 and proposed that it could be used for preventing DDos attacks and email spams. Adam published this concept in 2002 as “Hashcash – A Denial of Service Counter-Measure” and this crypto also used a hash-based Proof-of-Work algorithm to generate and distribute new coins. Eventually, this coin would fizzle out due to the increasing processing power needed as time went on.
Looking at this list of coins made me feel in awe about Bitcoin, especially since there were many that came before and never achieved what BTC was able to achieve. At the same time, every one of them set the stage for BTC to shine. Thanks for reading!