A cryptocurrency is a new breed of digital asset that relies on blockchain technology to enforce digital scarcity as well as the maintenance of rule systems that allow distributed computers to maintain a global transaction ledger with no central authority.
The first crypto-currency was bitcoin. It was created in 2008 and launched in 2009 by an anonymous programmer by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi was responsible for several innovations that make cryptocurrencies possible.
By creating a set of rules and economic incentives that are cryptographically enforced, he created a kind of digital commodity that is scarce, desirable and can only be possessed by buying it on the open market (making the price rise), or participating in the network itself (making the network stronger).
Taking Satoshi’s original innovation as a starting point, there are now thousands of cryptocurrencies all seeking to decentralize some aspect of our existing technological infrastructure.