Bitcoin topped the $2,500 mark for the first time recently. A surge in demand from China coupled with an increase in ICOs (initial coin offerings) is likely driving the most recent spike in price. With this milestone now in the rearview mirror, I thought it might be interesting to discuss a few applications spanning two technologies that I’m somewhat familiar with: unified communications (UC) and blockchains.
A Brief History
I began learning about blockchain algorithms in 2011, which led me to start bitcoin mining when 1.00 BTC was worth $6.00 USD. Note, this was when GPU mining (hashing with high-end graphic cards) was still economical. At the height of my mining career, I probably had 40 GPUs running concurrently.
I eventually recruited my brother to help out. We mined thousands of bitcoins. It was fun, profitable and exciting to be (sort of) on the fringe of society. I dabbled a bit in next-gen ASIC mining equipment but eventually let the hobby go when it started to feel like another job. I was busy enough building a tech startup with some awesome co-founders. Our company was experiencing a growth spurt around the time bitcoin emerged. I helped write some early UC applications for our platform, so there were more than enough exciting challenges to keep my mind occupied. Fast-forward to today, where unified communications and blockchain may now be on a collision course.
What Is A Blockchain?
Without going into a lot of technical detail, a blockchain is essentially an ever-growing list of transactions (listed in blocks) that are verified and permanently recorded. Each new block is linked to the previous block in chronological order, thus forming the chain. Blockchains are commonly stored in public distributed databases that allow for decentralized (peer-to-peer) ratification and acceptance. Blockchains are used in cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) because they ensure a clear record of who owns what and are effectively immune from retroactive changes.