Bitcoin was developed by a pseudonymous programmer in 2009 named Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto sent an email to a small group of software developers containing the original Bitcoin White Paper. The paper describes the Bitcoin protocol as a "purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash" that allows "online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution."
Bitcoin replaces the need for trusted, centralized financial entities with shared knowledge and open-source algorithms. Every entity, or node, in the Bitcoin network carries a complete history of every single transaction that has taken place on the network. Every user has the ability to see how many accounts exist and the number of Bitcoins in each account. While these accounts are publicly verifiable, they contain no personally identifiable information, making transactions on the network pseudo-anonymous.
At the highest level, Bitcoin is simply a shared list of transactions. Bitcoin has no inherent meaning or value on its own, but allows users of the protocol to interact in a trustless yet secure manner. This works based on a system called blockchain technology, but we won't get into the technical details of how it works just quite yet.
This chart might look familiar, but this time we are comparing government issued dollars with Bitcoin.
Somewhat durable but suseptible to fire
Impossible to destroy
Up to two decimal places
Up to 8 decimal places
Weightless and accessible from anywhere
Distinguishable but prone to counterfeit
No set maximum supply
Mathematically fixed supply
As the future is inherently uncertain, humans attempt to store wealth to plan for the unknown. Before Bitcoin, there was no good that is completely and verifiably scarce. While more gold can always be mined and more dollars can always be minted, the code controlling the Bitcoin network does not allow more than 21,000,000 Bitcoins to ever be created. This is possible through a disinflationary supply schedule that halves the block reward (incoming supply) every four years. This means that one person's stake in the network cannot be devalued over time in nominal terms.