The One True Bitcoin

There are many different kinds of bitcoin. So when we hear about bitcoin in the news which bitcoin are we talking about? For those not in the know, this can be a very confusing aspect of the world of cryptocurrency. Bitcoin Core, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and BitcoinSV; What do they all mean? While there are more than one legitimate versions of bitcoin, each with slightly different features, there is really only one true bitcoin.

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Bitcoin, illustration.

The One True Bitcoin

The one true bitcoin is a little bit more philosophical than you might think. If bitcoin is the peoples currency, then the one true bitcoin is the version that people decide to use and support. At this current point and time, the one true bitcoin is called Bitcoin Core. It’s the version of bitcoin that has 66% of the entire market cap of cryptocurrencies. This is the version of bitcoin most consistent with the original codebase. Another way to think about this is, it’s the version of bitcoin that is most in line with the values of the people. Since it’s the people who choose which version to use, the most popular and widely used version of bitcoin is the one true bitcoin.

How a New Version is Spawned

At the end of the day, bitcoin is just code. Programmers make changes to this code. When changes are made, this spawns a new version of the codebase. If the people running the codebase decide to upgrade to this newer version, then the older version is discarded. In this instance, there is still just one version of bitcoin, the current version. Sometimes, when changes are made, not everyone will agree to them. This difference in opinion will cause the community to fragment. One part of the community will want to run the older version, and another part will want to run the newer version.

This fragmentation has a name in the cryptocurrency community. This is called a fork. The first notable fork occurred on August 1st, 2017. This was the day that Bitcoin Cash was born. After this date, there were two distinct and running versions of bitcoin. This event brought uncertainty to the bitcoin community because at the time, this had never been done before. At least not at the scale of bitcoin cash. Eventually Bitcoin Cash settled on a price that was about 10% of the price of bitcoin at the time. This is more or less representative of the portion of the community that supported bitcoin cash over bitcoin core. The bitcoin wars ensued.

The Bitcoin Wars

After the Bitcoin Cash fork on August 1st 2017, anyone who was holding bitcoin, was now also holding an equivalent balance of Bitcoin Cash. That is because Bitcoin Cash has the exact same history as Bitcoin Core pre August 1st. Other people took note of this, and thought that forking bitcoin was a way to make a quick dollar. There were many more forks after Bitcoin Cash, basically none of which are successful to this day. To name a few, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Private, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin Nano, Bitcoin God, and so many more. Each of the versions of bitcoin have tweaks made to the Bitcoin Core codebase. However, they all have one thing in common. The history of each version of bitcoin is the same, up until the point and time when the new version is created.

Satoshi’s Vision

Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, is a mysterious historical figure. One of the reasons why we have bitcoin wars is because people are trying to interpret what Satoshi would have wanted for bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto left the world stage in 2011, bitcoin was still in its infancy. Much was left unsaid, and unplanned for bitcoin. There may be any number of reasons that Satoshi left the world stage when they did. Now the world is left to debate their intentions. One project in particular, is harkening directly to the vision of Satoshi. BitcoinSV or Bitcoin Satoshi Vision is a project that aims to adhere as closely as possible to the Bitcoin Whitepaper.

Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System

The phrase “Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System” is the most quoted piece of the Bitcoin Whitepaper. This is the piece that alternative bitcoin version project administrators often refer to when making the case that they are building the real bitcoin. When we observe what Bitcoin Core is, we can see that functions only reasonably well as a peer to peer electronic cash system. Bitcoin Core has its flaws, from transaction throughput, to high transaction fees. Bitcoin Core actually lacks some of the nice things we might want to see in an electronic cash system. These are the aspects that the two main other versions of bitcoin have decided to focus on.

Bitcoin Lacks a Leader

There is one aspect of Bitcoin Core that no other project will ever be able to emulate. Bitcoin Core lacks a formal leader. There is essentially no one in the world responsible for leading the development and vision of Bitcoin. This used to be Satoshi Nakamoto, but they left the project for the world to figure out. This may seem like a flaw, but I would argue that this is Bitcoin’s greatest asset. Because the only leader we knew was anonymous to the world, we can make some philosophical statements about bitcoin.

The One True Bitcoin: The People’s Currency

Perhaps Satoshi’s vision was to have the world decide what bitcoin is. Bitcoin was Satoshi’s gift to the world, and to the people of the earth. I make the case that the one true bitcoin is the one that the people decide to use. Because Satoshi Nakamoto is anonymous, it means that anyone could be Satoshi. All other versions of bitcoin have a leader, or a figurehead standing behind the name. But what picture can you put behind Bitcoin Core? Any picture will do, because anyone of us could be Satoshi Nakamoto.

I make the case that bitcoin is the people’s currency. Whichever version of bitcoin best serves that purpose, is the version of bitcoin I believe to be the one true bitcoin. It is not about transactions per second, or whether or not the software can run smart contracts. At the end of the day, regular people are tired of living in a system where their money does not fundamentally work for them. Regular people too often find themselves with the odds stacked up against them. Walking into the bank becomes something to fear, rather than something to look forward to. The one true bitcoin is egalitarian, unbiased, and owned by the people.