14

What is it that makes Bitcoin unique amongst crypto-currencies? Is it just the most popular one or does it have better design aspects too?

9

Until a careful analysis is performed, I think most crypto currencies are very similar in all properties except one - adoption.

Bitcoin has the largest hash rate, participating nodes, accepting sites, and people going over the code and protocol.

While alternative currencies can gain more hash rate, especially if effective forms of merged mining are developed and adopted, it remains to be seen if they gain the same adoption (sites accepting them), and developer base (strong developer community).

(See this post about merged Namecoin/Bitcoin mining)

Edit - One notable exception to this is Namecoin, which does offer unique features making it suitable to use as a DNS or general name registrar.

  • 1
    I believe that Artem's answer is a better one. The concept of cryptocurrency existed before Bitcoin but the concept of the blockchain is new. The "Bitcoin clones" (SolidCoin, IxCoin or whatever) pretty much copied the Bitcoin concept with some very minor modifications. It is more interesting to discuss how Bitcoin differs from the (mostly theoretical) cryptocurrencies that existed prior to Bitcoin. – D.H. - bitcoin.se Aug 31 '11 at 15:58
  • @D.H. - I think the two sides of this question are interesting. Right now, since Bitcoin-forked crypto-currencies seems to be gaining the upper hand, the practical interest in such currencies outweighs theoretical interest in pre-Bitcoin crypto-currencies. – ripper234 Aug 31 '11 at 16:13
6

From a theoretical point of view, the interesting part of bitcoin is that it lacks a central issuing authority (often called a mint in the crypto-currency literature). In terms of security an anonymity of users, it does not have particularly strong features. Refer to answers on the following two questions for more info:

https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/q/7145/1037

https://crypto.stackexchange.com/q/508/617

5

The thing that separates Bitcoin from other cryptocurrencies is the amount of computing power the network has. It is extremely difficult to 'overtake' the network because it would be costly.

I wouldn't say it has the 'best' design aspect to it as something catastrophic as a price crash would cause miners to pull out. It might take months or weeks for the difficulty to get back on par. Transactions will be super slow, as there are few miners to solve the blocks.

Something like SolidCoin fixes this problem, I really like the twice daily difficulty adjustments as it prepares the network for something Bitcoin might be prone for.

  • It fixes it, but it introduces problems of its own. For example, it makes it much easier for a miner to mine a long, but valid, block chain by forging timestamps and forcing as many maximum-sized difficulty drops as allowed. – David Schwartz Sep 17 '11 at 15:28
  • The link to solidcoin redirects to coinforce.com – hitchhiker Dec 17 '17 at 20:12
0

Brief comparisons of the different alts here:

-3

I was in the bitcoin community in 2011. It seems pretty secure and has a lot of people looking into it. I think one of the main growing pains of a crypto is that it has to run through the growing stages. With the many crashes and hacks that Bitcoin has gotten through, it seems it's here to stay.

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