Bitcoin Vies with New Cryptocurrencies as Coin of the Cyber Realm

As hundreds of “altcoin” knockoffs are minted online, bitcoins no longer dominate as the principal form of digital currency

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What it is
Every digital currency has to contend with the double-spending problem. Some mechanism must exist that ensures users are not spending the same money in multiple places. Bitcoin solves this problem by recording every transaction on a public ledger, then relying on a network of computers to verify the uniqueness of each transaction. What gets lost in this design is the privacy of the users. Attached to every bitcoin is a complete history of all its previous owners.
Zerocash solves bitcoin’s privacy problem. The software uses a cryptographic algorithm called a zero-knowledge proof to make digital currency transactions completely untraceable. In zerocash transactions are still public but because of this added level of encryption it is impossible to determine who spent the coins, how many they spent and where the coins ended up.
Who started it
Zerocash was created by Matthew Green, a professor at Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute. At first he envisioned it as an added feature to bitcoin but he was unable to get bitcoin developers onboard. Green now plans on releasing it as a stand-alone currency.
Other similar altcoins
Anoncoin utilizes a previous version of the zerocash code. Darkcoin seeks to achieve anonymity by other means.
Exchange rate
Not available. Green will present his protocol at a conference next month; he has not yet launched the currency.

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