All cryptocurrencies will run on a blockchain, which is important to understand, to really get not just cryptocurrencies, but also the mining process. The definition of blockchain technology can be left to Don and Alex Tapscott, the authors of Blockchain Revolution, who say; “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
What’s important to note is that bitcoin accounts for about 50% of the entire cryptocurrency market, and has the highest volume. It is undoubtedly the most important currency today. You’ll also notice a difference between the original version of bitcoin, Bitcoin Classic (BTC), and a newer version of bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Bitcoin Cash is a spinoff off of the original bitcoin blockchain. I’m not going to get into the technical differences between Bitcoin Classic and Bitcoin Cash, but understand they are separate currencies. So far, Bitcoin Classic seems to be favored by the public over Bitcoin Cash, and has an 8X higher market cap. But when people say “bitcoin” (lowercase) they could be referring to to either currency.
The term altcoin has various similar definitions. Stephanie Yang of The Wall Street Journal defined altcoins as "alternative digital currencies," while Paul Vigna, also of The Wall Street Journal, described altcoins as alternative versions of bitcoin. Aaron Hankins of the MarketWatch refers to any cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin as altcoins.
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Mine It: The easiest—but slowest—way into Bitcoin is to mine it. Set up a dedicated computer to do nothing but decrypt Bitcoin blocks, install some Bitcoin-mining software and let it do its thing. Again, doing so on a mid-range desktop could take upwards of a year or more to fully decrypt a single block. That's not going to be worth the time or effort.
Waves is a LPoS (Leased Proof of Stake) cryptocurrency that is fully premined . When users mine Waves, they receive the transaction fees in exchange for maintaining the Waves Blockchain. In a Leased Proof of Stake environment, users can choose to be a full node and use the balance from other users to stake Waves for a greater profit or to lease their Waves balance to a full node in order to receive transaction fees without having to run a full node. This system allows anyone to participate in the Waves network maintenance.
The Ethereum Platform rests on open-source software, and there is a risk that the Ethereum Stiftung or the Ethereum Team, or other third parties not directly affiliated with the Stiftung Ethereum, may introduce weaknesses or bugs into the core infrastructural elements of the Ethereum Platform causing the system to lose ETH stored in one or more User accounts or other accounts or lose sums of other valued tokens issued on the Ethereum Platform.