Disclaimer: Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopediamakes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns less than 1 BTC, and no positions in any of the other companies mentioned in this piece. Investopedia does not make recommendations about particular stocks. 
At its core, a blockchain is a digital ledger shared among any number of stakeholders with an interest in keeping better track of information and transactions. Everybody gets a copy of the same distributed information. Nothing can be removed. And because a blockchain is a decentralized system, a consensus of stakeholders has to agree before something is added to the ledger.
You'd have to get a fast mining rig or, more realistically, join a mining pool--a group of miners who combine their computing power and split the mined bitcoin. Mining pools are comparable to those Powerball clubs whose members buy lottery tickets en masse and agree to share any winnings. A disproportionately large number of blocks are mined by pools rather than by individual miners.
A wallet stores the information necessary to transact bitcoins. While wallets are often described as a place to hold[91] or store bitcoins,[92] due to the nature of the system, bitcoins are inseparable from the blockchain transaction ledger. A better way to describe a wallet is something that "stores the digital credentials for your bitcoin holdings"[92] and allows one to access (and spend) them. Bitcoin uses public-key cryptography, in which two cryptographic keys, one public and one private, are generated.[93] At its most basic, a wallet is a collection of these keys.
The bitcoin blockchain is a public ledger that records bitcoin transactions.[67] It is implemented as a chain of blocks, each block containing a hash of the previous block up to the genesis block[a] of the chain. A network of communicating nodes running bitcoin software maintains the blockchain.[31]:215–219 Transactions of the form payer X sends Y bitcoins to payee Z are broadcast to this network using readily available software applications.
Each computer in the blockchain network has its own copy of the blockchain, which means that there are thousands, or in the case of Bitcoin, millions of copies of the same blockchain. Although each copy of the blockchain is identical, spreading that information across a network of computers makes the information more difficult to manipulate. With blockchain, there isn’t a single, definitive account of events that can be manipulated. Instead, a hacker would need to manipulate every copy of the blockchain on the network.
Exchanges, however, are a different story. Perhaps the most notable Bitcoin exchange hack was the Tokyo-based MtGox hack in 2014, where 850,000 bitcoins with a value of over $350 million suddenly disappeared from the platform. This doesn’t mean that Bitcoin itself was hacked; it just means that the exchange platform was hacked. Imagine a bank in Iowa is robbed: the USD didn’t get robbed, the bank did.
The other primary validation method is PoS. Rather than using a ton of electricity in a competition to solve equations, the PoS method awards the owners of virtual coins the opportunity to validate transactions in a deterministic fashion. In even plainer terms, the more coins you own of a virtual currency operating on the PoS model, the more likely you are to be chosen to validate blocks and add to the blockchain.
The receiver of the first bitcoin transaction was cypherpunk Hal Finney, who created the first reusable proof-of-work system (RPOW) in 2004.[22] Finney downloaded the bitcoin software on its release date, and on 12 January 2009 received ten bitcoins from Nakamoto.[23][24] Other early cypherpunk supporters were creators of bitcoin predecessors: Wei Dai, creator of b-money, and Nick Szabo, creator of bit gold.[25] In 2010, the first known commercial transaction using bitcoin occurred when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz bought two Papa John's pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin.[26]
×