The first wave of cryptocurrencies, starting in the 1980s, attempted to digitize government-issued currency (or fiat currency, as cryptocurrency enthusiasts say).8 The second wave, represented prominently by Bitcoin,7 provide their own separate currency—issued and operated independently of any existing currencies, governments, or financial institutions. Bitcoin's currency (BTC) is issued in fixed quantities according to a hard-coded schedule in the protocol.
In the words of Bitcoin's pseudonymous inventor:
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