Final Word

Blockchain is not a technology torture chamber


Computers and the databases they generate are not always as up to date as one might think – even when it comes to terms that refer to technology associated with it.

We made this discovery last week during a thorough search on the net in an attempt to trace the origin of the word/term blockchain, very much associated with the world of virtual or crypto currencies, like in Bitcoin, and the so-called Internet of things and intelligent machines.

A decade, and maybe a bit (as in the original meaning, and not as an abbreviation for “binary digit” for the smallest unit of data in a computer) ago if ask what is a blockchain is, the thoughts of most of us would probably have gone in the direction of a medieval torture chamber.

Although for many of us, when exposes to the world of computers, might feel like having been dropped in a torture chamber, that guess would have been wrong.

Official definition

The generally accepted definition of a blockchain goes something like this: “A blockchain is a distributed database that keeps a continuously-growing list of records protected from revision and tampering.”

Most sources on the internet seems to agree that blockchain technology creates public ledgers that records all transactions that have ever occurred in particular, or related fields.

Official blockchain public sites allow any person to get to the details of all transactions in the field of interest in real time and to evaluate the basic stats of the system, including the time between the creation of data blocks linked in the chain.

Just about every source we could find, claims that the term originated from a 2008 nine-page whitepaper produced by an anonymous scientist under the synonym Satoshi Nakamoto.

This whitepaper outlines in detail how to use cryptography technology for the creation of a crypto currency based on a sophisticated software algorithms to record transactions with reliability and anonymity. It is said to have laid the groundwork for the creation of bitcoin.

Although both the words, “block” and “chain” appear repeatedly in, what is now generally referred to as the “Satoshi white paper,” neither the terms “block chain” or “blockchain,” appears in it.

Got it wrong

Even the tens of sources that we could find on the net, which postulate that the term was triggered by the Satoshi white paper, got it wrong and, they clearly did not link all available data-sets or blocks properly together.

Using good old fashioned “hard copy” data in the dictionaries on our bookshelf, we found the word in a Pharos dictionary published in 2005, three years before that the whitepaper made its appearance.

One source claim it found a reference to the term dating back to 1976. The link supplied take one to a Wikipedia article, which informs us that “Ehrsam, Meyer, Smith and Tuchman invented the Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) mode of operation in 1976.”

This close, but still not quite “blockchain” as a stand-alone term and it turns out that “the computer” is not quite as clever with all the answers as we think.

If you know when blockchain was first used, or even have a reference that pre-dates 1976, please email us at [email protected] and we will return the favour by sending you a free copy of the Final Word collection Babalaas to Hell.

by Piet Coetzer

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