Bit Gold was conceptualized by web developer Nick Szabo. It had a proof-of-work system very similar to the blockchains of today but ultimately failed to materialize. This was the first mention of a decentralized system away from governance and peaked the interest of cypherpunk and libertarian communities on the internet.
It’s considered to be the closest precursor to Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin. So close, in fact, that people have speculated that Szabo could in fact BE Satoshi Nakamoto!
In Bit Gold, users would have to solve a cryptographic puzzle using computing power, after which they are sent through a Byzantine Fault Tolerant(BFT) network and assigned to the public key of the problem solver.
In some ways this process of resembled a chain, linking the solution of one puzzle to the next.
Many people feel as if Bitcoin sort of appeared out of nowhere, but the truth is, Satoshi borrowed from lots of these earlier projects to create his masterpiece. Thankfully, for us these cryptocurrencies that came before Bitcoin served as sort of a “stress test” for what was to come.