First became a phenomenon in 2009, as Bitcoin itself became nerd gold for millennial hackers and gamers.
Very different from today, 2009 could be undertaken by literally anyone with a desktop computer and average spec graphics card. The only problem, of course, is that at the time, no one knew what Bitcoin was. This being the case, many coins were mined purely out of interest, with many never actually making their way to market.
How Bitcoin & Altcoin Mining has Changed Exponentially Since 2009
As the world’s first digital currency, Bitcoin pioneered the idea of a cryptocurrency model with a finite number of tokens. This was because a limited number of coins would lead to ever reducing supply and increased demand in the process.
Of course, 21 million Bitcoin couldn’t be distributed all at once. Bitcoin’s creators subsequently made digital currency tokens themselves only accessible to people who could mine them by solving complex cryptography problems.
Referred to as a Proof of Work protocol, the idea behind mining was simple. Digital currency miners would be rewarded with Bitcoin as they used their computers to solve complex encryption problems. What is more, this would also help add real material value to tokens.
Why Bitcoin Mining Difficulty Perpetually Increases?
The only problem between in 2009 and today, lies with the fact that Moore’s Law sees computational power double every two years. To guarantee a steady release of Bitcoin into the digital currency marketplace, Bitcoin subsequently uses an SHA-256 hashing algorithm which considers mining difficulty levels increase with every digital currency token which is created.
Why is it Impossible to Mine Bitcoin with a Regular PC in 2018?
Because SHA-256 encryption problems have increased exponentially in difficulty since 2009, Bitcoin today can only be mined using specialized ASIC hardware devices. What is more, even low specification ASIC units cost more than $1,000 and are notoriously power hungry. This puts the cost of mining a single Bitcoin in 2018, at well over $1,000, even after ASIC hardware has procured.
Script-Based Digital Currency Mining
To mine bitcoin, it has become so resource intensive, many altcoins now use a more CPU intensive form of encryption called Scrypt.
Scrypt mining is different from SHA-256 mining, in that it relies more on CPU power than graphics card power, This alone sees mining difficulty levels increase much steadier. There are, however, some Scrypt based ASIC mining devices on the market. This being the case, it is only a matter of time before mining altcoins like Litecoin become just as resource intensive as mining Bitcoin.
Can Regular People Still Mine Digital Currency?
As a rule, anyone who can afford to invest in the necessary hardware can start mining Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency. New miners, however, need to be wary of buying second-hand ASIC mining units. In the same regard, single ASIC miners will still only be able to mine an average of 6 – 8 Bitcoins per year and this number will steadily decrease as the equipment itself becomes obsolete.