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Bitcoin was launched in 2009 as the world’s first decentralized, private digital currency. Because it has no physical denominations, Bitcoin only exists inside of an interlinked computer network system. This is not entirely unique, as much of the U.S. dollar supply only exists in digital account balances instead of as actual green pieces of paper.

Bitcoins are generated, or “mined,” through a sequence of complex mathematical formulas run through computers. The anonymous creator of Bitcoins set a cap on total Bitcoin volume. Once that number hits 21 million, no more Bitcoins can be generated. These digital coins can then be bought or sold with other currencies and used as an investment or money to buy goods from any sellers who accept them.

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