I was first introduced to Bitcoin by Vaishali when it was around $30 per BTC. Like most people, I brushed it off as another open source project trying to solve digital payments that was likely to fail. When BTC reached $100 a few months later, I thought maybe it was time to learn about Bitcoin and blockchain. Unfortunately, in 2013, it was very difficult to find people who knew about Bitcoin and online resources were just as difficult to find.
In 2017, it seems the problem of finding the right resources isn’t much easier. Even though, there are many people writing about Bitcoin and crypto, it is still hard for beginners to figure out which resources they can trust and which they can’t. I had a lot of questions, “What is Bitcoin?”, “What is Bitcoin backed by?”, “How do I buy Bitcoin?”, “Why would anyone run a full node?”
This isn’t an attempt to answer all of those questions but instead meant to share some resources that I have accumulated and think are useful for people beginning their crypto journey. Teach a man to fish and all that…
This isn’t investment advice and it should not be taken as such. It is purely shared as a resource to learn from.
Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System — This is the quintessential starting point for anyone interested in cryptocurrencies, crypto assets, and, of course, Bitcoin. Nine pages that have changed technology and economics, forever.
Ethereum White Paper — This is far more technical but worth reading. The Ethereum blockchain has allowed the creation of hundreds of tokens to piggyback off the Ethereum network and completely changed how blockchain technology is looked it.
This book can get a bit technical but you’re diving into crypto currencies, you will need to start understanding the basic technology behind it.
This one is on my reading list. I’ve been following Chris Burniske on Twitter and he’s got some really brilliant things to say. I’m sure the book is just as informative.
Podcasts & Videos
Andreas’ videos are a must watch to get started
Charlie Lee discusses “Creating Litecoin”
- Proof of Stake Vs Proof of Work
- Eight Things Cryptocurrency Enthusiasts Probably Won’t Tell You
- Does Bitcoin/Blockchain make sense for international money transfers?
- Nobody Understands Bitcoin (And That’s OK)
- Explain Bitcoin Like I’m Five
Buying Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin Or Other Altcoins (Alternate Coins)
Depending on where you live, buying Bitcoin can be extremely easy, or quite difficult or expensive. Most people will use a marketplace or an exchange to purchase Bitcoin. However, other methods like buying it from from a friend or using a service like LocalBitcoins is also possible. The folks at CoinCentral put together a review of various exchanges and buying methods including LocalBitcoins.
If you’re in the US, the largest and easiest way to buy Bitcoin, Ether or Litecoin is currently Coinbase (disclaimer: I may get paid $10 if you open an account and buy some coins).
If you’re in India, some of the more commonly used online exchanges are Koinex, Coinome, Zebpay, Coinsecure, and Unocoin amongst others.
Most experts in the crypto currency world agree that it is not safe to leave your crypto assets on an exchange. Though there hasn’t been a case of the blockchain ever being hacked, businesses, websites, and tools are susceptible to hacking just like Equifax, Home Depot, Yahoo!, etc. For that reason, experts recommend moving any amount of crypto currency that you’re not comfortable losing, over to your own wallet where you control the private keys (sorry, I didn’t discuss private keys but the resources above do — it’s critical to understand them and keep them safe).
One of the most challenging things for me to figure out was which wallet should I use. I wanted a solid product that had the support of the community and was also safe and secure. I also wanted a wallet that could support multiple currencies. I tried a couple of multi currency wallets but eventually decided on separate wallets for each currency.
I highly recommend checking the Bitcoin.org site to choose the wallet best for you. I chose to run a Bitcoin Core Full Node and use that as my wallet but that may not be for everyone.
The Ethereum Foundation, generally, recommends using the Mist wallet as the initially launch point. Now that it supports a light client, it is also pretty fast to sync with the network. If you’re interested in just playing around, you can also try MyEtherWallet which is an amazing web-based Ether and token wallet (yup, I’m leaving out the discussion on tokens in this post).
Installing and setting up a wallet is free (unless you’re using a paid app). Sending Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin or any crypto currency to another address, will cost some currency. I highly encourage downloading and setting up a wallet and creating your first wallet address, if for no other reason than to learn.
If you want to try out a transaction, feel free to send some
Please make sure to send the right coin to the right address. If you send it to the wrong address, it will be gone forever. Some points to keep in mind are:
- Please write down your passphrase and passwords on a piece of paper that is secure and won’t get lost, damaged, stolen, etc.
- Do not use a password that you’ve used for any other purpose, on any other site, application, etc.
- Once you’re comfortable with your wallet, export your private key, print it out and store it safely.
- Anyone with your passphrase or private key can take your coins and you won’t be able to get them back.
- If your hard drive crashes or your computer gets hacked, etc. you can use your passphrase or private key to recreate your wallet on a secured device (so can anyone else that has access to the passphrase or key).
Good luck on your journey and if you find other resources that you find useful, please do share them in the comments.
[The article was first published here and has been reproduced with permission of the author.]