What is a bitcoin address?

What is a bitcoin address?

Just what is a Bitcoin address, and what does it do? Is it more like a TCP address, or an email address? (Hint: Neither!) In this video I tackle this basic question ...


What's up, party people? Chris DeRose, here. Community director of the counterparty foundation. And, in this video, I want to address the question, "What is a bitcoin address?" And, before we even get started, I want to suggest, it's the same question as "What is a counterparty address?" So, a bitcoin address is a public number. It's an identifier of a wallet or an identity. It's kind of a nebulous concept in terms of like identity. But, the idea is that when we want to send money to people, or if it's a counterparty, you want to send assets to people, we need an address.

We need a destination to send money or to send assets. And, the public key or the address is one component of that address. There's a private key as well that is the password to that address. So, like in some ways you can think of it as like an identifier in the same sense that like an email address is an identifier or a user id is an identifier. And, typically, these public addresses are mapped to a private address. The private address you can think of as like a password that corresponds to it.

These addresses are very useful for all kinds of things. But, typically, to identify people, individually, or to identify companies, individually, just to designate some sort of an identity on the system. And note that these identities aren't registered anywhere. There isn't a central repository. People can make up an address out of thin air and start using it. Yes, that's really possible.

And, in fact, it's one of the primary innovations of bitcoin even, is that these addresses are things that are mathematically proven to be linked between the private and the public address, but don't require any central registration. You can quite literally make up a number. It has to be 256 bits. And, then, map the public address that corresponds to that number. So, a lot of the software that's out there, what they'll do is algorithmically use a random number generator to generate a private key. And, they do the calculation for that private key to the public key.

And, then, the public key is your address. I think that the public addresses itself typically express it like the RIPEMD format, if I am not mistaken. But, that's the designation of the public address. It looks like a bunch of letters and numbers. And, it's typically like, I should probably know this, but like 40 characters or so. Those 40 characters are often displayed as QR codes.

So, when you see like a QR code that is a public address or an address or a spending address. That is an address. That is a public address. And, that is an identification. It's not uncommon for people who use bitcoin to have many addresses and some software even will compose a new address for every single transaction. HD wallets are kind of notorious for that.

So, those are all themes around addresses. Those are what addresses are used for and how they kind of work. It's important again to note that in a counterparty system there's no difference between a bitcoin and counterparty. Bitcoin is counterparty. Counter-party works on bitcoin. And all the transactions require some identity or some sort of notation for ownership are in fact bitcoin addresses.

So, that's it. That's the theme. If you like this question and you want to ask some questions on your own, go ahead and tweet me. I am derosetech on Twitter. Or, you can email me,

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