Bitcoin sounds like something from science fiction: A purely digital currency, created by an anonymous hacker, that operates outside the world's traditional banking systems. The four-year-old currency is very real, though, and it's trading an all-time high, tripling in value in the last two months alone.
One bitcoin is was worth about $40 U.S. dollars on Tuesday, and surged on Wednesday to nearly $49. . . . Because the number of transactions and overall value of coins in circulation is relatively low, the currency is quite volatile -- it went from under $1 to over $28, then back to $7 in 2011 alone. . . .
Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an anonymous developer using the pseudonym "Satoshi Nakamoto" -- the Japanese equivalent of a bland name like "John Smith." It has no central-bank backing. The idea was to create a currency that's free from government intervention and can be used to conduct transactions without hefty exchange or processing fees. . . .
Bitcoin Reaches All-Time High