The Bitcoin community is quite literally at a fork in the road, riven by an acrimonious debate between two potential paths forward.
The division could result in two conflicting versions of the Bitcoin software running at the same time – a dangerous possibility.
Given these events, it is instructive to look back at the last time there was a major fork in the Bitcoin software, in early 2013.
That event – and the furious race to fix the problems – is described in Nathaniel Popper’s history of Bitcoin, “Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money.”
Gavin Andresen, the chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation, was in his den in Massachusetts after dinner on March 11, 2013 when he saw some online chatter about disagreement between the computers that were helping to run the Bitcoin network.
The computers were, in effect, putting together a list of all the recent Bitcoin transactions – what was referred to in Bitcoin lingo as a block.
Every 10 minutes or so, a block compiled by one computer was picked – almost at random – to become the official record of what had happened on the Bitcoin network since the last block was chosen.
The computer that generated the chosen block also received 25 new Bitcoins, which was why the process was known as mining.
When Gavin checked in, the computers on the network were divided on what block they were
Originally appeared at: http://www.businessinsider.com/digital-gold-excerpt-2015-8