Do you really know the history of Cypherpunks?

If Satoshi Nakamoto has always been considered the father of Bitcoin (and therefore of cryptos), you should know that he was inspired by the first attempts of Cypherpunks. The latter would be the true precursors of cryptocurrencies and cryptography protocols. But who are they? What is their story ? What are their goals ? Here are some answers.

Cypherpunks, digital activists

Cypherpunks are still little known to the general public. And yet, this group, which has now become a large movement, is behind many concepts, in particular that of cryptography. It is basically a group of computer scientists of about twenty members, focused on the defense of online confidentiality and the protection of privacy. And this, while the Internet was still in its infancy. This small visionary community was born in the 90s, in California.

The group was formed at the instigation of three computer geniuses. There is Eric Hughes, a prominent American mathematician and computer programmer. And then Timothy May (aka Tim May), a brilliant computer technician, ideological writer and electronics engineer. The third founder is John Gilmore. Among other things, he is known for founding the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace.

David Chaum is another major member of cypherpunks. He has developed many cryptographic protocols. He also wrote an article discussing the concepts of anonymous digital money. His article titled “Security Without Identification: Transaction Systems to Make Big Brother Obsolete” was published in 1985. This also discusses the anonymization protocols that underlie blockchain technology.

A Cypherpunks Manifesto and Mailing List

A Cypherpunk’s manifesto.

Already then, the group was convinced that the Internet would become a central part of society. And once governments understand this freedom, they will co-opt this space, monitor it and apply censorship policies. In the face of which, Cypherpunks are actively working to make networks safer for privacy and confidentiality. For them, only one tool could ensure Internet freedom: cryptography. With encryption, governments could not exert their power over individuals.

This vision is recorded in a manifesto written by Eric Hughes and published in 1993.” Cypherpunks write code. We know someone needs to write software to defend privacy, and we’re going to write it. “, he says. He adds: “Cryptography will inevitably spread across the globe, and with it the anonymous transaction systems it makes possible.”

The group also shares its thoughts via its mailing list. This space created in 1992 also made it possible to widen the scope of Cypherpunks. The list is still active. The platform now allows the development of cryptographic projects around the world. The PGP, RSA or Diffie-Hellman encryption systems, the first cryptocurrency trials, the SSL and HTTPS protocols… All have been published on this list.

A pioneering group of cryptocurrencies

Members of cypherpunks have already conceptualized cryptocurrencies long before the phenomenon Bitcoin (BTC). In 1990, David Chaum launched the first serious attempt to create private digital money: DigiCash. This is the first use of software-only electronic payment technology. The currency made it possible to carry out transactions in small amounts between people who had neither bank accounts nor credit cards. A revolution!

Cypherpunks, precursors of cryptocurrencies

In 1997, Adam Back described on the mailing list a process akin to proof of work that underlies the Bitcoin blockchain. A year later, Wei Dai also released his method on how to exchange money and enforce contracts that were distributed among a network of users. Thanks to this process, the intervention of a third party for the transactions becomes unnecessary. Like the Bitcoin blockchain, his idea included a way for participants to create money through computational effort.

These virtual currencies have not been viable. Nevertheless, each of these protocols laid the foundation stone for cryptos as they are today. On this point, Wei Dai states: The protocol can probably be made more efficient and secure, but hopefully it’s a step towards turning crypto-anarchy into a practical and theoretical possibility. “. Almost a decade later, Satoshi Nakamoto launches Bitcoin.

As true visionaries, Cypherpunks predicted some of the biggest problems facing Internet users today. These include privacy and anonymity within a largely insecure and public infrastructure. They also laid the foundation for the creation of cryptocurrency. And all this, thanks to cryptography.

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