Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash

Blockchain For Beginners

By Rasyue | On March 31, 2022

The concept of Blockchain was first described in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W Scott Stornetta which at that time was only a cryptographically secured chain of blocks.

It was not until 2008, when a group of developers or maybe a single developer going by the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto releases a white paper that established the model for blockchain and the rest is history.

Blockchain For Beginners Introduction

With all the hype that is surrounding blockchain and cryptocurrency today, you just can’t help but to go to the internet and checkout what’s the deal with this thing.

While some quickly hop on and try to ride the wave, some prefer to stay put to see the direction where the hype is going.

However, for those who are not doing anything, mainly because they simply don’t understand it, here is what you need to know about blockchain.

At least, the basic.

Blockchain For Beginners : Understanding what Blockchain really is…

Blockchain in Layman’s terms can be described as a system to save information in a way that it cannot be tamper or hack.

In technical terms, Blockchain can be described as a digital immutable ledger which is designed to store information or records or if you may, transactions. Because of that, Blockchain can be considered as a database because it stores data.

And this database is decentralized because it is distributed among the many nodes in the network.

Blockchain can be public meaning everyone can join in, or private which means only to those with access, and last one is hybrid which is something in between public or private.

Summarize..

To summarize, we can then say that,

Blockchain is a distributed database that stores information which is not limited to transactions and the database is shared across the network and can be public, private or hybrid.

The next question is, if Blockchain is a distributed database that stores data, how does it stores data?

Blockchain For Beginners : Data in Blockchain

Now that we know that Blockchain is a distributed database that stores information. Let’s learn how Blockchain stores information.

Blockchain stores information about transactions as records that is known as ‘blocks‘. As new transactions occur, new blocks are added and each of these blocks are connected. The first block or also known as genesis block is connected to the second block, the second block is in turn connected to the third block and so on for n number of blocks.

blockchain for beginner - blocks

So, What is a Block?

A block usually contains a set of transactions, timestamp and other information. But the most important content of a block is the cryptographic hash.

The hash is usually placed in the block header and every block will have the hash from the previous block with the exception of the genesis block since it’s the first block.

Ok, then what is a Hash in a Block?

Every block has a hash present in the block header with the exception of the genesis block.

It is solely used to identify the validity of the block which is generated using the SHA256 cryptographic hash algorithm.

Also, note that each block, aside from storing its own hash, it also store a reference of its parent hash.

blockchain for beginners

More about Hash in Blocks…

Hash is a very important part in any blockchain.

With hash, a block can prevent itself from being tamper or hack because if a block’s content changes, the hash will also change.

But, because the next block contain the hash from the previous block, this will make all the proceeding blocks invalid. Although usually, the system will reject the new hash that result from the hacking attempt on the block content.

Additional Information on Block…

In the image above, you probably noticed that I included nonce and timestamp but have not talked about it.

In a block, nonce stands for Number Only Used Once which is used by miners.

nonce is a number to be used for hashing the value of block. For miners, nonce is the number that the miners are solving for to get rewards.

timestamp in Blockchain is used to store the exact time that the block was validated or produced.

Blockchain For Beginners : Is Blockchain the same as Cryptocurrency?

Blockchain IS NOT cryptocurrency regardless if you may have heard people use these terms like they carry the same meaning.

Cryptocurrency is a digital money or currency that exists digitally with blockchain at its backbone.

You could say that the reason cryptocurrency exists today is because of blockchain technology. Of course, example of cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and so on.

Usage of Blockchain

There are over 10,000 crypto blockchain running publicly or privately at the time of this writing, with many more blockchains coming live.

However, did you know that there are also non-crypto blockchain?

For example, did you know that MedRec has managed to apply blockchain for medical data management? And BurstIQ is building a blockchain-enabled data network solutions for the healthcare industry.

To add more, check out HYPR, a company that is using blockchain for cybersecurity solution.

DHL has also managed to implement blockchain in their business.

The list goes on and on. Check out this site that showcase all the companies that are building blockchain-related products and solutions.

Personal Thoughts on Blockchain

As a developer myself, I have a positive view on blockchain. The usage of hash is what really caught my eye when I first learn about blockchain.

Sure, there are tons of cryptocurrency blockchains today compare to the non-crypto blockchains.

However, I do believe in the near future, blockchain will be an important component software development.

Mainly because of its hackproof nature.

The End..

I hope this article helps you in a way or two as it helps me to understand blockchain better.

Unfortunately, there are a lot more to blockchain than what meets the eye, but treat this article as your starting point in your pursuit of knowledge on blockchain!

See you in the next article and stay tuned!