The world's first decentralized digital currency, bitcoin, was launched in 2009.
Transactions on the bitcoin network are peer-to-peer, meaning the funds are transferred between users, without the involvement of third parties or regulatory authorities like banks, government entities, etc.
Bitcoin does not have any physical representation. It entirely exists on the Internet as decentralized database, secured cryptographically. The database stores information about all transactions on bitcoin network. Anyone can install the bitcoin database on their computer free of charge.
The price of bitcoin is not tied to any physical assets or fiat currencies, and it is regulated exclusively by market demand and supply.
Bitcoin supply is strictly limited to 21 million BTC.
The smallest fractional part of bitcoin is equal to one hundred millionth (0.00000001 BTC) and labeled as 'satoshi' in honor of the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto who created the cryptocurrency.
Mining is the process of adding transaction records to the bitcoin's decentralized database. The records are added as blocks, forming the chain of blocks in the process of mining. Hence the bitcoin network name - blockchain (other cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology as well).
Once the miner confirms a block, they receive a reward equal to newly emitted bitcoins (fixed amount) and bitcoins received as commission for transactions included in block (variable amount).
Miners compete by solving cryptographic tasks called "hash puzzles". Those, who come up with the solution first, get paid.
Mathematical calculations, that make up the mining process, are carried out on personal computers or specially assembled huge mining centers packed with rows of mining hardware. Such centers exhibit extensive computing power and consume a large quantity of electricity.
The more computing power joins the bitcoin network, the more challenging it gets to solve cryptographic tasks, hence the network becomes more secure.
A new block on the bitcoin blockchain is generated every 10 minutes.
The fixed part of bitcoin block reward is reduced by half every 4 years. At the very beginning it was 50 BTC. Currently, the number is 12.5 BTC.