It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie.

In 2008, a programmer using the alias of “Satoshi Nakamoto” published a manifesto outlining the idea for a digital currency that would be secure and keep user information private.

Then Nakamoto put the plan into action. The mystery programmer mined the first block of bitcoins, while also creating a way to track each one: the blockchain, a peer-to-peer network of ledgers that encrypt and store blocks of data that can be viewed and verified by anyone in the network. By making every bitcoin transaction public, counterfeiting was impossible. And it all would transpire without governments or banks—or their fees and regulations.

In 2010, Bitcoin got real. A user purchased two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins, proving that the online currency had worth. And that was just the start. Over the years, the use and value of bitcoin skyrocketed—and copycat cryptocurrencies followed. Blockchain also multiplied and diversified, with industries around the world now using it to manage everything from finances to supply chains.