The origin of virtual currencies

This will be the beginning of a series of articles related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, in a chronological way. We start the Blockchain section in the blog with an article about the origin of money.


Approximately eighty thousand years ago, human beings began to use the vocal cords to emit words. Seventy thousand years later, they achieved to cultivate the land. Communication through language together with the possibility of producing and storing food, created what we now know as economy.

Twelve thousand years later, the human being managed not to depend on the generosity of nature, he learned to work with it so that it would produce goods for him. Much of the hunting had been exhausted, consequently, to the great skill with which they hunted. The increase of the number of individuals caused that the fruits of the trees were no longer sufficient, being that, the hunger, forced the human being to invent methods of cultivation of the earth. Hunger was the reason why humans learned to cultivate.

This revolution - not chosen - of the technology of agriculture and the agricultural economy ... happened without intending it and made human society change. Agricultural production created the basic element of a new economy: the surplus.



The surplus is a product of the land that besides being able to be consumed in the act and allows to accumulate it to use it in the future. For example, the cereals that we have saved for a bad moment (like the destruction of a harvest because of temperatures) or to plant them the following year, increasing the future surplus.

It is important to know that the production of agricultural surplus was what later generated the writing, the debt, the money and the States.


Thanks to archeology, we know that the first form of writing appeared in Mesopotamia. The writing arose to note what some producers and others, deposited in a common store. It began to be used to record the quantity of cereals.

At that time, it was difficult for each farmer to build his own warehouse, so it was easier to have a common warehouse in which each farmer kept his crop. When organized in this way, a proof was required that a person had deposited X kg of the product that was, in the warehouse. The first writing arose so that each one could demonstrate how much he had deposited in the common store. Proof of the quantities of products, such as cereals that belonged to that person, was the beginning of the money creation.


Virtual money

Again through archaeological findings we know that many of the workers obtained the reward for their work in "shells" in which, with numbers, they represented the production that the lord of the land owed him for the work he had done in his lands. Since the production referred to by these numbers may not have been produced yet, these shells were a form of the lord's debt to the worker. At the same time, workers bought products from others with these shells, using these as a form of money.

However, the most relevant finding has to do with the creation of metallic money. Many think that metal coins were created to be used in transactions, passing from hand to hand. Well, it was not like that. There is evidence that, at some point, the registration of property rights over cereals that were stored in common warehouses was made based on virtual metal coins. Virtual currencies? Yes, virtual. For example, in the accounting record it was noted: "That person will receive cereals worth three metal coins".

In most cases these coins did not even exist and when they existed they weighed too much for them to circulate. This was the first time that we can consider that "virtual currencies" appeared and these were used to carry out transactions on the surplus part. But something like that required the belief or confidence that these virtual units had exchange value and that it was worthwhile for someone to work in exchange for them.

For that trust to exist, it was necessary that there be something similar to what we now call the State: a collective institution that would intervene in matters such as the death of the Lord and in which someone could trust that, in due time, he would give of the surplus that belonged to him.



In this way, debt, money, trust and state can not go if not, hand by hand. Without the creation of debt there would be no easy way to manage the agricultural surplus. Because of this, we say that when the debt was born, the money arose. But for the money to have value, we needed a collective entity that made it reliable and that's where the State appears. A State could not exist without a surplus, since it generates expenses that have to be borne. It needs officials to manage public affairs, authorities that defend property rights, judges who act as arbitrators to resolve conflicts due to disagreements and, of course, governors who intend to improve living conditions.

Without an important surplus none of this can be maintained, since, of this, they all have to live without the need to work in the field. Similarly, without surplus you can not afford an organized army. And, without an organized army, the power of the ruler, and of the state in general, couldn't be imposed.

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