Picture a chain you might use for a ship’s anchor. But in this case, every link on the chain is a chunk of information that contains transaction data. At the top of the chain you see what happened today, and as you move down the chain you see older and older transactions. And if you follow it all the way down to the anchor sitting at the bottom of the harbor? You’ll have seen every single transaction in the history of that cryptocurrency. Which gives the blockchain powerful security advantages: it’s an open, transparent record of a cryptocurrency’s entire history. If anyone tries to manipulate a transaction it will cause the link to break, and the entire network will see what happened. That, in a nutshell, is blockchain explained.
Another way people often describe the blockchain is that it’s a ledger (sometimes you’ll hear the terms ‘distributed ledger’ or ‘immutable ledger’), that is similar to the balance sheet of a bank. Like a bank’s ledger, the blockchain tracks all the money flowing into, out of, and through the network.
But unlike a bank’s books, a crypto blockchain isn’t maintained by any individual or organization, including banks and governments. In fact it isn’t centralized at all. Instead, it is secured by a large peer-to-peer network of computers running open-source software. The network is constantly checking and securing the accuracy of the blockchain.
Where does new cryptocurrency come from? Every so often – around every ten minutes in the case of Bitcoin – a new chunk of transaction information (or a new block) is added to the chain of existing information. In exchange for contributing their computing power to maintaining the blockchain, the network rewards participants with a small amount of digital currency.
A crypto blockchain is distributed across the digital currency’s entire network. No company, country, or third party is in control of it; and anyone can participate.
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