If 2017 was about anything, it was about Bitcoins. Nearly every single soul which heard about Bitcoin asked itself a huge number of questions: Shall I invest? Is it safe? Will it be profitable? What if it turns out to be a bubble? And so on. What most people did not ask was the fundamental question. The question which potentially provide answers to all other questions related to Bitcoin. The one big question: Where do the Bitcoins come from?

Unlike traditional money which is created through central banks and governments, Bitcoins are ‘mined’. Yes, you read that correct. Bitcoins are mined. No. Not from the earth. But from the Bitcoin network. And this is done by Bitcoin miners. Miners who are just like any other network participant but different because they perform extra tasks. To be more specific, they order transactions in a particular sequence by including them in the Bitcoin blocks they discover. This solves one of the biggest issues related to digital currency: the issue of “double spend”.

Let’s skip some technicalities and jump into the process of ‘discovering blocks’. Finding a Bitcoin block is very similar to a sort of network lottery. And just like you make numerous attempts and buy various tickets, miners too make a number of attempts. These attempts are basically a random guess for the lucky number. For each attempt the miner has to spend a small amount of energy. And just like lottery, majority of attempts simply fail making the energy going to waste. It, averagely, takes 10 minutes for a miner to be lucky and find a block. The ‘proof of work’ is the centre of Bitcoin network. Why?

Because this proof of work restricts miners from producing Bitcoins out of nothing. They have to burn energy to ‘earn’ Bitcoin. Secondly, this proof of work readies a skeleton for Bitcoin’s transactions. This in turn provides a security. For example, if an attacker tries to change a transaction which happened in past, the attacker will need to recreate whole of the work which has been done since that transaction, which in itself is practically impossible. And, in this way miners are also responsible for the security of the bitcoin network.

Each newfound block comes with an attached transaction. This transaction is the fee and the incentive for which the miners work. And, these attached transactions provide miners with new Bitcoins. And, this is how Bitcoins came to existence. At the inception of the system, each newfound block discovered would award the miner with 50 Bitcoins. But, the amount decreases to half in after every four year. Presently, the amount stand at 12.5 new Bitcoins. Moreover, the miners are also entitled to fee attached with any transaction which they include in their blocks.

So yes. You are thinking right. Anyone can become a Bitcoin miner. But there is only one little problem. Over the years, Bitcoin mining has become a specialised process. And presently, it is performed chiefly by professionals with special hardware appliances and data centres. Consequently, if you want to be a miner today, you will need to invest serious resource and time and also access to cheap electricity.