UPDATED 2023-03-20 (Bitcoin block 781608, 1 BTC = 27,350 USD)
I first published this page several years ago. Keeping it updated is a nearly impossible task as things change so quickly in the Bitcoin world. Always do your own research. And feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions. –Tim
I am often asked “where is a good place to learn more about Bitcoin?” Or “why do you think Bitcoin is so important?” Or “how do I buy some bitcoin?” Or sometimes “what other cryptocurrency-related products or services do you recommend?” This page is my attempt to provide links to some of those resources.
By the way, the convention is to use “Bitcoin” with an upper-case “B” to refer to the network, or the open source software that runs it, while we use “bitcoin” with a lower-case “b” to refer to the unit of account, or the currency unit that is transferred across the network. And one satoshi (or one “sat”) is one 100,000,000th of a bitcoin. Now that the value of a full bitcoin has risen so dramatically, it’s often more convenient to think of smaller value in terms of sats.
The opinions expressed here are solely my own. I might be a Certified Bitcoin Professional, but I could certainly be wrong about any of this. I have spent a LOT of time studying Bitcoin since 2012. And I have personally committed a very high percentage of my personal net worth to bitcoin. Most financial advisors would say an excessively risky amount, in fact. So if I’m wrong, I’m certainly going to face some far more significant consequences than the naysayers coming around to say “I told you so!” But the fact is, there is nothing else in this world about which I have such a strong conviction as bitcoin being the best possible long-term store of value.
IMPORTANT: Nothing on this page should be taken as investment advice. Do your own research. Think for yourself!
This page has grown pretty long over the years. So before I get into the details, let me make this page even longer by summarizing some of my top personal opinions:
- Ignore “crypto” and “altcoins” and NFTs and everything else and focus strictly on Bitcoin until you really know what you are doing and understand WHY Bitcoin is such a game changer. You are not going to “find the next Bitcoin.” In fact, the vast majority of other cryptoassets are just garbage that you don’t want to waste time or money with. Yes, I got caught up in the “crypto” craze for a bit in 2016-2017. I deeply regret that now.
- Don’t get fooled by things that sound like Bitcoin (Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, etc.). You want the real thing–Bitcoin (BTC, or XBT on some exchanges). Once you fully understand Bitcoin and its history, and you’ve done your research, if you truly think these other things are better, then good luck. I might play with some interesting technologies, but I’ll keep my wealth in bitcoin, thank you.
- Buy and hold (or “HODL” as we say in the Bitcoin community). If you’re an amazingly good trader, have at it. I’m not. Ninety-nine percent of the population is not. Human emotions make trading really tough for most people. They want to sell when the prices has gone down. They want to buy when the price has run up. Fortunately, a super easy strategy with bitcoin is simply to buy and hold.
- Take the long-term view. This ties in with buy and hold. For every bit of fiat currency you convert to BTC, just assume you’re never going to touch it for at least five years. Ten is even better. Definitely don’t invest any money that you might need for normal living expenses in the next few years. Even though bitcoin has provided incredible returns over the last dozen years, I know people who have lost a lot of money in bitcoin. One buddy of mine bought at $1000 and panic sold when it dropped under $800. Don’t be that guy. I was buying that day he was selling.
- Consider dollar cost averaging (or the equivalent in your local fiat currency). There is lots of good analysis on DCA, so I won’t repeat it here. There are several exchanges that allow you to buy the same dollar amount on a recurring, automatic basis. Just set it and forget it. Start small–even $20 a month or $10 a week–then increase it later if you want. Good options for DCA purchase of bitcoin include Cash App and Coinbase. More on these options below.
- Not your keys, not your coins. Remember this mantra! If “your” bitcoins are stored on an exchange, or some web site, then they’re not really yours. The exchange or web site operator can be hacked (and we’ve seen lots of this because they are huge targets). Or they might turn evil and simply steal the coins. Sadly, we’ve seen a lot of this too. Or if nothing else, if a government agency tells them to freeze your account, or change your balance to zero, or use some of your bitcoin to pay a speeding ticket, there’s nothing you can do. Or more likely–and this happens all the time–you might be restricted from spending your own bitcoin with merchants that the web site operator doesn’t like, even if it’s perfectly legal. If you truly want secure, censorship-resistant money that can’t be confiscated, you need to store it in wallets where you control the private keys. Buy on an exchange, but move the coins into your own self-custody wallets.
- Follow good security practices! You know the drill–now start actually doing it! Use a top password manager. Use strong passwords. Don’t reuse passwords. Don’t write down passwords. Keep your computers and phones updated with the latest security patches. Don’t send passwords and other details over plain e-mail or text messages or other unencrypted communications. Use 2FA (and not the kind that depends on text messages to your phone). When you become a Bitcoiner, you take on a new level of personal responsibility. There is no bank or government or credit card company that is going to reimburse you if you lose your Bitcoin keys. For most folks, a good hardware wallet addresses most of these security concerns. As your bitcoin wealth increases, there are more advanced techniques, and experts who can help.
- Expect some big price swings. Bitcoin is not nearly as volatile as the “good ol’ days,” but it’s more of a rollercoaster ride than you might be used to with traditional (i.e., boring) investments. I still expect there will be more bubbles in the future, followed by more pullbacks of 50-60% or maybe more. Over time, the bubbles will be smaller, and the pullbacks will be less dramatic. In the meantime, be mentally prepared if you choose to invest.
- Consider the privacy implications. This topic is beyond the scope of this short page, but it’s something you probably want to learn about. The short version is that by default, all bitcoin transactions are stored forever on the blockchain, and can be tracked easily. If you initially acquire your bitcoin in a way that requires providing your identification, and you don’t follow some privacy best practices, then all future transactions can be associated with you. Also, people with whom you transact can see your past (and future!) transaction history. I’ll try to add more about this at some point, but if you don’t want people knowing your financial business, you need to learn proper techniques for acquiring and using bitcoin privately.
- Start simply and improve over time. I know this can all sound a bit overwhelming. But just start simply. Maybe acquire a small amount of bitcoin to start. Store it on a simple software wallet. Learn how to send small amounts to other wallets that you own. Over time, you want to learn how to use more secure hardware wallets. As the value of your bitcoin holdings grows, you need to improve your security practices. You should also learn how to improve your privacy techniques. Learn how to CoinJoin. You should run your own full node (or nodes!) and not trust other people’s nodes with your privacy, or rely on them to tell you what’s in the blockchain when you can verify it yourself! But you don’t have to do all these things on day one. Just start. And improve over time.
OK, on to some of the resources now . . .
- Personally, before you start acquiring bitcoin, or trying to learn all the technical details behind how it works, I suggest it’s most important to first understand WHY Bitcoin is so important–probably the most important invention since the Internet. Here are two fantastic books that answer the question “why Bitcoin?”
- The Little Bitcoin Book: Why Bitcoin Matters for Your Freedom, Finances, and Future – this is currently my top recommendation for a starting point for beginners
- The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking – another great read!
- And, of course, everyone should read the original Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin Whitepaper, published in 2008! It’s only nine pages long. The key points are simple enough for everyone to grasp. You can safely skip some of the math and technical details if that’s not your thing. Of course, some details have changed a bit, or been improved upon over the years, but the basic beauty of this invention shines through.
- Other places to learn about Bitcoin:
- CaseBitcoin – This page is “making the case for Bitcoin every day.” It’s largely focused on bitcoin as an investment, but it does a very good job of rebutting the most common critiques about Bitcoin.
- Bitcoin.org – The Bitcoin Foundation (it was a good idea, executed poorly, but the explanations of bitcoin are still solid)
- What is Bitcoin and Blockchain? – A great collection of resource links curated by MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) and published in a blog post by Satoshi Citadel Industries
- Bitcoin: How Cryptocurrencies Work – Nice 9-minute explainer video from SciShow
- WeUseCoins – Another good starting point
- Bitcoin Wiki – A great resource maintained by the Bitcoin community
- Bitcoin news sources:
- Local Bitcoin resources in and around Kentucky:
- Cointucky.com – This is your path to becoming a member of the Cointucky Slack Group, which is quickly becoming the place to discuss, share and learn about the cryptocurrency and blockchain space around the Bluegrass state
- Louisville Bitcoin Meetup – Meets on the first Sunday night and third Wednesday night of every month. Come out and meet other cryptocurrency enthusiasts, or just bring all your questions–newbies are definitely encouraged to attend!
- Louisville Blockchain Meetup
- Lexington Blockchain Meetup
- Bitcoin discussion forums:
- Bitcoin subReddit – This is the original, but it’s heavily censored to remove any mention of Bitcoin scaling solutions that are not in alignment with the owner’s personal views. This makes me sad.
- BTC subReddit – This is the uncensored one, but because of the censorship on the Bitcoin subReddit, this subReddit is largely dominated by discussion of Bitcoin Cash and other “big block” scaling proposals.
- BitcoinTalk – Another active forum for bitcoin discussions, but censored by the same owners of the Bitcoin subReddit.
- Frankly, all these discussion forums have become so toxic and filled with personal attacks related to the Bitcoin scaling debate, that I don’t spend much time on them any more. Most of the best discussion takes place on Twitter these days.
- Bitcoin podcasts:
- LTB Network– A great network of several podcasts, including the following:
- Bitcoin Uncensored (and it’s definitely uncensored!)
- Bitcoin Knowledge – With the amazingly insightful Trace Mayer
- The Bitcoin Podcast – Usually a few minutes of useful content in each episode, if you can stand all the inane discussions and dreadful audio
- Unchained – Part of the Forbes podcast series, hosted by Laura Shin
- Options for acquiring bitcoin–so now that you know a little about what you’re getting into, it’s time to start stacking sats, as the kids say these days:
- Cash App – For buying relatively small amounts, Cash App is fantastic! And you probably already have it on your phone, right? If not, use this link to get a free $5! Cash App now supports dollar cost averaging with automatic recurring buys on a daily, weekly or biweekly basis. Just remember to move the coins to a self-custody wallet from time to time.
- Kraken – Definitely my favorite U.S. exchange. These guys are doing everything right. Please use this referral link and I earn a small cut on your future trading fees (at no cost to you, of course).
- Coinbase – I use Coinbase to convert USD to bitcoin every time I get paid. Use this referral link to sign up, and once you buy $100 or more of bitcoin, we both receive an additional $10 of bitcoin. Please recognize that Coinbase has to operate under the dreadful financial surveillance laws of the U.S., so assume that any transaction you make from your Coinbase account is monitored by Big Brother (transfer first to a “real” bitcoin wallet before spending, if you value your financial privacy and don’t want your account to be shut down).
- Earn – This is one of my new favorites! Earn bitcoin and receive free airdropped tokens just for answering e-mails, surveys, or completing other “microtasks” (referral link)
- LocalBitcoins – This is potentially a nice option for buying bitcoins in your home town. I dropped in and met these guys last time I was in Helsinki–they’re pretty cool!
- Mycelium Local Trader – Another good option for local bitcoin trades using the Mycelium wallet
- Bitsquare – The first fully decentralized, private service that allows you to buy and sell bitcoin for fiat currencies or other cryptocurrencies
- Vaultoro – Great option for trading between bitcoin and gold. If you use this referral link, I earn a small percentage on your trading fees.
- Coin ATM Radar – Find a nearby bitcoin ATM
- Paxful – More than 300 ways to buy bitcoins
- WARNING! PayPal has finally gotten into the Bitcoin world, about eight years later than they should have, and they’re doing it all wrong. They offer a service now that deceptively looks like the ability to buy bitcoin, but it comes with a very serious downside–you can’t transfer the bitcoin outside of their closed loop system! You don’t own the private keys, so you don’t own the coins. And you can’t even spend them. There is some promise that they will allow you to spend bitcoin with approved merchants at some point, but that’s a long way from the promise of a permissionless, open, borderless, censorship-resistant network that is Bitcoin. My strong advice–stay away from PayPal!
- Bitcoin books
- Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies by Andreas M. Antonopoulos – Pretty much the best single technical resource on how Bitcoin works
- Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper
- The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey
- The Internet of Money by Andreas M. Antonopoulos and Don Tapscott
- Bitcoin video documentaries:
- Modeling bitcoin price:
- There are lots of valuation models various analysts have tried to use to help predict the future exchange rate of bitcoin. My favorite is the S2FX Stock to Flow Cross Asset model.
- This model was developed by Plan B–you should definitely follow Plan B on Twitter and his website, PlanBTC.com!
- Digitalik has provided a great live S2FX chart that shows how bitcoin is tracking against the model.
- Interesting related projects (see my CAUTION at the top of this page!):
- Lightning Network – In my opinion, this is how Bitcoin will ultimately scale at the second layer (or if we don’t get past the current scaling debate, this is how some other cryptocurrency will overtake Bitcoin)
- RSK (formerly Rootstock) – A Turing-complete smart contract layer on top of Bitcoin
- Bitcoin wallets:
- Wallet comparison – Nice resource from the Bitcoin Foundation
- Open Bitcoin Privacy Project – Detailed ranking of wallets based on privacy features
- Mycelium – Still my personal favorite, although I’m not sure about its future
- Xapo – Integrates with their bitcoin debit card
- BitPay – Great option for multi-signature transactions, with debit card integration
- AirBitz – Popular among beginners and more seasoned users
- Bitcoin Wallet – The original Android wallet by Andreas Schildbach; still a good choice
- Samourai – Still in alpha, this is an interesting wallet that includes several privacy features not available anywhere else today
- Coinomi – A straightforward wallet that supports Bitcoin and dozens of other popular cryptocurrencies and tokens
- Copay (by BitPay)
- Hardware wallets (the best option for most users who have more than pocket change amounts of bitcoin):
- Blockchain.info – Because they’ve had some security issues, and haven’t kept up with the market, I don’t really recommend any web-based wallets, but I do still use Blockchain.info for some small amounts
- How to Make a Paper Wallet – I used to recommend using a BIP38-encrypted paper wallet for the majority of your bitcoin holdings. I no longer recommend this for a lot of reasons, but it’s still good to understand how it works. This is a great tutorial.
- For maximum security, while still maintaining control over your private keys, talk to the experts at Casa!
- Bitcoin point-of-sale (POS) and e-commerce solutions for merchants:
- BitPay – One of the best ways for merchants to accept bitcoin payments
- Coinbase – Use this referral link to sign up, and we can both receive an additional $10 of bitcoin
- Revel Systems
- How to Accept Bitcoin for Small Businesses – Huge list of resources from the Bitcoin Wiki
- Miscellaneous resources:
- Purse – A fantastic site where you can easily save 20-25% or more on every item on Amazon! Use this referral link to sign up and receive 0.01 bitcoin after transacting $50 or more.
- Jameson Lopp’s Bitcoin Resources – Frankly, a far better collection of resources than this one
- Presentations – Some recent public presentations of mine
- BitPay Debit Card – There are other bitcoin debit cards, but I personally use this one to buy products from merchants who don’t accept bitcoin directly
- Coin Center – The leading advocacy voice for cryptocurrencies and open blockchains in Washington, DC
- Initial IRS tax guidance for U.S. taxpayers (PDF) – Let’s hope this changes some day to treat bitcoin just like other currencies, or there is at least some safe harbor language added to create a de minimis transaction amount that does not generate a tax gain/loss.
- Ledger Journal – A peer-reviewed scholarly journal that publishes full-length original research articles on the subjects of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, as well as any relevant intersections with mathematics, computer science, engineering, law, and economics
- Last but certainly not least, please consider donating some bitcoin to a good cause (and for U.S. taxpayers, get some nice tax benefits!):
- Fern Creek United Methodist Church (FCUMC) – My local church is using bitcoin to fund some amazing mission work!
- Northern California DX Foundation (NCDXF) – For ham radio operators, this is the premier organization for making DX magic happen
- Coin Center
- United Way
- American Red Cross
- BitGive Foundation
Oh wait, what about other crypto stuff besides Bitcoin? So you’re cousin’s best friend’s sister told you about the next great thing that is going to be better than Bitcoin? My simple advice is this–run away! Don’t waste your time or your money.
As always happens when some new, successful technology is invented, there are literally hundreds of SCAMS, CONS, FRAUDS, CRAZY SCHEMES and just downright REALLY BAD INVESTMENT “OPPORTUNITIES” that have recently popped up in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. I really don’t want to see my friends and family get caught up in these terrible things, but sadly, a few of you already have.
In June, 2017, I predicted that 98% or more of the new cryptocurrencies (“altcoins”), startups and so-called “initial coin offerings” (ICOs) or “token generation events” (TGEs) that had launched since 2016 were doomed to fail. It turns out, I was being far too kind. It looks like the real number is closer to 99.99%. Many (maybe even most?) are outright evil attempts to defraud people. Others might be well-intentioned, but have no hope of succeeding. And of the top 1% of really solid projects with fantastic leadership teams and great ideas–including some of the ones I mention below–even many of those will likely fail.
Bitcoin is the clear winner for a long-term store of value, and eventually as a currency. There’s just no chance of anything else beating it (in my opinion, of course). Some of the other blockchain technologies might prove valuable in other areas (e.g., for more complicated “smart contracts” or tokenizing other assets). And there might well be future value from investing in companies that bring such technologies to market. But I currently don’t see any investment potential in other tokens developed just for the sake of making a token.
If you find this page helpful, or just want to practice sending a micropayment via the Bitcoin Lightning Network, feel free to visit my Tip Jar. Thanks!