Connecting dots up to the Bitcoin Genesis block
This is an excerpt from an unpublished manuscript I wrote back in 2018 because:
`I can clearly see the risk of missing out on the core principles underpinning the Satoshi Nakamoto paper. There is a huge opportunity cost to our society, if we just end up applying this technology only to improve processes (faster and cheaper) and fit it in the current structure of capital markets. This would mean we missed the spirit and the essential value of this design.`
Archimedes and his Eureka moment in the bathtub  , is a 20-year-old narrative that easily qualifies for an archetype of how the first building block of breakthrough innovation may come about. Others came after and built upon this “genesis block” idea to bring significant use cases to fruition. Archimedes’ principle became the basis for designing ships and submarines, the hydrometer, the navigational system for hot air balloons etc.
Visualize the hardwood blocks of the Jenga Hasbro game that one has to combine with and on each other, so that a tower can be built. Combining, building upon, and creating new value; is nothing new. So, Bitcoin that was born out of the 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto white paper was not airdropped, as it may seem to a lot of people, and should neither be considered as a Big Bang kind of moment. Without looking too far back in history, there are several noteworthy strings of moments that proceeded Bitcoin which is already a decade old, very resilient and alive.
We are in the 1930s with a recessionary environment that is killing the economies and especially small businesses. Out of Switzerland, the miniscule country that consistently ranks high on most innovation rankings, springs a Community Currency, the WIR. As necessity is always the mother of invention, the WIR was designed by businessmen in search of a way to support small businesses during this tough period. WIR is an abbreviation of Wirtschaftsring (economic circle) and the word for Wir which means “we” in German, reminding participants that the economic circular process is at the same time a community. WIR was electronic money (no paper edition) available for the customers of the WIR bank (actually created for that purpose). The member businesses of WIR bank could use this officially recognized parallel currency (CHW) to easily trade with each other and to obtain loans with either little or No interest. 
The WIR bank is a community that acquired a banking license and issued the electronic Community Currency (CC) the CHW whose value is pegged 1:1 to the Swiss Franc — CHF. This CC was invented mainly to support the trade activities of the members. It all started in 1934 with only 16 members. It grew to 60,000 members (17% of the total Swiss businesses) and an annual turnover of 1.5 billion euros. Trade in WIR, accounts for a share of 1%-2% of Swiss GDP. 
WIR bank is a not-for-profit cooperative. The most important value-add that it offers to the economy should not be measured by the amount of CHW, but rather by its social value. During economic recessions and crises, the amount of WIR and the interest free credit increases and helps support SMEs during severe downturns. Switzerland innovated by allowing this parallel community currency while other countries have banned community currencies.
WIR is a community currency that has great economic value for small businesses which goes beyond the measurable financial value of the WIR amount.
WIR is referenced often as one of the most successful Community Currencies if not the most successful one, as there have been all sorts of variations globally.  Always invented out of some local economic slump, similar to the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS) that was invented during the 1980s recession in Canada. All these variations are cases that present real evidence to all of us, to start rethinking the nature of money, its role in economic growth, and its social value.
About 50yrs later (in the early ‘80s), an American computer scientist and cryptographer, David Chaum, invented Ecash. The “genesis block” idea he introduced was Blind signatures that allowed him to create digital money and payments that were private in a new way.
This was happening at the same time that Netscape and Yahoo were the darlings of the tech boom. David Chaum sets up a company called DigiCash  which became a rising tech star. Digicash was running a variety of projects around payments — like smart cards which are comparable to hardware wallets. Ecash was the flagship product/service and the money in that system was called CyberBucks. The team was passionate, and they spoke about the importance of privacy, micropayments, and the internet that would allow people to get paid for anything and everything. These are the days without PCs or Wifi and the ideas that David Chaum was introducing were really cutting edge.
With eCash “You can pay for access to a database, buy software or a newsletter by email, play a computer game over the net, receive $5 owed to you by a friend, or just order a pizza. The possibilities are truly unlimited.”  , said David Chaum at the first ever conference about the World Wide web in 1994 at CERN.
Digicash penetrated into the banking world in the 1990s, like nobody expected. Starting from licensing Ecash to a small bank in St. Louis Missouri, and then with Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Australian and Austrian banks, and even ING signing a partnership and an investment from Visa. Bill Gates wanted to integrate ECash into Windows95, but they never agreed on the financial terms. It all looked as if Blind signatures would be everywhere behind the scenes. However, DigiCash ended up filing bankruptcy because “It was hard to get enough merchants to accept it, so that you could get enough consumers to use it, or vice versa,” Chaum told Forbes in 1999. The banks that got on board were experimenting but did not really push the technology.
Blind signatures — a cryptography primer
Blind signatures are the genesis block idea for security in the digital age. Diffie and Hellman  can be credited for this Eureka moment. They conceptualized a way to use cryptography so that digital signatures cannot be copied (unlike digital files that can be easily copied) and can be exchanged over a public channel in a secure way. David Chaum built Ecash and DigiCash on this genesis block idea.
In 1976 the scientific world launched a dedicated academic journal for Cryptography and two years later Alice and Bob are born and their life stories unfold in this journal. Alice and Bob  are fictional characters that have been used ever since in the cryptographic literature to explain all sorts of proposed algorithms on digital security. Alice and Bob, are the personification of a sender and receiver of a “digital message” (an ID, a text, data etc) from the ’80s. They send flirt messages to each other, they marry, they get locked in jail, they divorce, their private life is assaulted and then protected by cryptographic algorithms. Scientists created Eve, a passive threat who eavesdrops; Mallory, a malicious attacker who tries to modify the messages,  Craig a password cracker, Grace a government representative, Olivia an oracle providing external data, Sybil a pseudonymous attacker using multiple identities, Ted who is a trusted arbitrator, and Wendy a whistle-blower.
They developed all kinds of cryptographic algorithms that could solve problems that Alice and Bob faced. Like:
- Person A(lice) wants to send an “ encrypted message” to Person B(ob).
- Alice wants to prove to Bob that she is a member of some super-secret organization, but she does not want to reveal her identity.
- Alice and Bob want to sign the same digital document.
- Alice is selling a car to Bob who is a stranger. They don’t trust each other. Bob wants to pay by check. Alice wants the check to clear before she turns the title over to Bob.
📌 Stay tuned for Part II next week.
 The scientific community doubts whether such a moment actually occurred. The oldest source of the naked-Archimedes eureka story is Vitruvius, a Roman writer, who included the tale in his introduction to his ninth book of architecture some time in the 1st century B.C. which is nearly 200 years after the event is presumed to have taken place, the story may have been improved in the telling.
 Charging interest on loans is forbidden under Sharia law. Sharia compliant Finance means no interest for borrowing, a practice that has been strictly confined to Muslim countries but which we may see spreading outside as banking is being transformed by customer centricity.
 One WIR-franc always equals the value of one Swiss-franc. But according to the WIR Bank’s statutes, WIR-Credit cannot be redeemed for Swiss Francs (Douthwaite 1999: Ch. 2). This design criterion guarantees that money remains within the cooperative circle. Source: Community Currency Knowledge Gateway
 Data from Community Currency Knowledge Gateway
 For a detailed account on CCs see: Dini, Paolo (2012) Community currencies and the quantification of social value in the digital economy. The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.
 Out of Amsterdam.
 Excerpt from “The Genesis Files: How David Chaum’s eCash Spawned a Cypherpunk Dream”, by Aaron van Wirdum Bitcoin magazine article April 2018
 New Directions in Cryptography, WHITFIELD DIFFIE AND MARTIN E. HELLMAN, MEMBER, IEEE
 The fictional characters of Alice and Bob were invented by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman in their 1978 paper “A method for obtaining digital signatures and public-key cryptosystems.”
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