the last days I have thinking about the bitcoins and the technical issues that can have this currency, I am a computer science guy, with many interest in the global economy.

The first question that I want to ask is about the blockchain, the file that store all the transactions done in the network, the problem is that the current size of this file is about 7 GB, with only 100.000 bitcoin accounts, something insignificant to the global economy, still insignificant for a little country of third world.

What will happen when exists 10 , 100 or worse 1000 million of accounts, what will be the size of the blockchain file?.

If this file grow and grow this is not problem for the current tecnology, is more a problem againts the philosopy of bitcoin, because not all the people could be have the file in their own computers, then in the long run the system will tend to transform in something centralized, where only some organizations or very rich people would have a copy of the blockchain file, and the system will be more susceptible to be shut down if some power entity decides to do that.

What do you think about?, is like I am thinking? or am I missing some one about the design of bitcoin?.

Thank for your answers.

1 Answer 1


This is explained in Satoshi's original paper:

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Basically, the block hash does not contain the hashes of the individual transactions, rather it contains the root of the Merkle tree of the hashes. Once all the bitcoin outputs of a transaction have been fully spent, then there is no need for the original transaction, and hence its branch is chopped off from the Merkle tree. As time passes, all the branches get chopped off and one is left with just the root.

So, let's say someone gives you 1 BTC in transaction A (which has no other outputs). You give it away in transaction B to someone else. After a few more blocks have been generated, I have no reason to doubt that transaction B is valid and since A cannot be referenced anywhere else (it is already spent), it is safe for me to remove A from my blockchain.

Of course, some entities may keep the entire chain but this is not strictly necessary for bitcoin to work.

  • Great info I will definitely going to read the paper before do more question, thanks
    – criloz
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 12:41
  • Sorry to unbury such an old question, but I really don't understand the concept of "fully spent" bitcoin ouputs. Could you please elaborate it in your answer? Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 12:55
  • @HenriqueBarcelos A bitcoin is just a portion of an output of a transaction (transactions can output to multiple addresses) . Subsequent transactions may refer to this transaction as an input. When they do, the original output was "fully spent". I suggest looking into how transactions work; this is a fundamental concept. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 20:15

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