The price of a bitcoin topped $900 last week, an enormous surge in value that arrived amidst Congressional hearings where top U.S. financial regulators took a surprisingly rosy view of digital currency. Just 10 months ago, a bitcoin sold for a measly $13.

The spike was big news across the globe, from Washington to Tokyo to China, and it left many asking themselves: “What the hell is a bitcoin?” It’s a good question — not only for those with little understanding of the modern financial system and how it intersects with modern technology, but also for those steeped in the new internet-driven economy that has so quickly remade our world over the last 20 years.

Bitcoin is a digital currency, meaning it’s money controlled and stored entirely by computers spread across the internet, and this money is finding its way to more and more people and businesses around the world. But it’s much more than that, and many people — including the sharpest of internet pioneers as well as seasoned economists — are still struggling to come to terms with its many identities.

With that in mind, we give you this: an idiot’s guide to bitcoin. And there’s no shame in reading. Nowadays, as bitcoin is just beginning to show what it’s capable of, we’re all neophytes.

[MORE: The Bitcoin Survival Guide - Everything You Need to Know About the Future of Money]

  1. levelhandlevelheadlevelheart reblogged this from aurorajune
  2. internettheincredible reblogged this from wired
  3. helloinfographics reblogged this from wired
  4. uncompiledbytes reblogged this from wired
  5. vicpopsicle8 reblogged this from ilovecharts
  6. n3kochan reblogged this from ilovecharts
  7. annanomz reblogged this from wired and added:
    One of my go-to articles to convince my friends to care about bitcoin.
  8. ruship reblogged this from ilovecharts
  9. oscarhenriquezr reblogged this from forbes
  10. scattrdglitter reblogged this from ilovecharts
  11. oliverthesexyone reblogged this from ilovecharts
  12. theepitomeofhumanity reblogged this from ilovecharts
  13. trailfool reblogged this from ilovecharts
  14. the-bunny-apocalypse reblogged this from ilovecharts
  15. shemasetformules reblogged this from davesearbymason
  16. scribeofthebookoflife reblogged this from forbes
  17. hdsweers reblogged this from ilovecharts
  18. amonnar reblogged this from forbes
  19. bobastig reblogged this from forbes
  20. ele-azar reblogged this from wired