Bitcoin, Ethereum, Blockchain, DeFi, etc. are terms that are being thrown around a lot these days. You hear about it a lot on social media and on other places on the internet (especially when their prices are rising), but the vast majority of people do not know much about what they are or what they do.
My name is Harsh Strongman and I was one of those people. Naturally, being curious, I wanted to learn more about these technologies. I did what all of us do: a web search. And I found a myriad of resources, most of which were either too basic or too complex and filled with jargon. Moreover, they are entirely unstructured and I felt like I was picking up tiny pieces of information here and there, instead of learning in a structured, “builds on top of previous knowledge” way.
Since I could not find a decent non-technical resource that will allow me to learn about these technologies in a structured way, I decided to create one (in collaboration with Sergio from Your Coding Teacher).
This course will teach you everything you need to know about Bitcoin, Ethereum, Blockchain, DeFi, NFTs, etc. as a non-developer (i.e. you can understand everything without having a technical background).
All the course content is freely available and self-paced i.e. you can watch and read as per your leisure.
You will notice that some concepts are covered in multiple resources or sections. This redundancy is a feature of this course, not a bug. We deliberately looked for resources that demonstrated key concepts from different angles and at different levels of complexity to ensure the best possible learning experience for you.
|Module||Content Duration||Estimated time*|
|1. Bitcoin||24 hours||4 weeks|
|2. Ethereum and Smart Contracts||12 hours||2 weeks|
|3. DApps, ENS, Tokens, and Oracles||7 hours||1 week|
|4. Decentralized Finance (DeFi)||TBA||TBA|
|5. Privacy coins, Storage coins, and other technologies||TBA||TBA|
*assumes that you devote 6 hours per week to your studies.
Note: The content must be watched/read in the order presented. Each resource builds upon the information and concepts learnt in the previous resources.
Module 1: Bitcoin
The best way to learn a thing is to know its history. Before you start exploring the internals of Bitcoin, you have to know the history and context under which it was created and what problem it is trying to solve.
|The History and Evolution of Money||money, currency, barter, fiat, capitalism, history of money, trust, commodity money, paper money, currency printing, double spending problem, centralization, decentralization, motivation behind Bitcoin||30 m|
Before we get into the nitty gritty details, we want you to get a broad idea of what Bitcoin is and the technology we’re dealing with.
|What is Bitcoin and how does it work?||ledger, public key, private key, digital signature, hash functions, proof of work, blockchain, mining, block reward||30 m|
There are a couple of technical ideas that you need to know to grasp how Bitcoin works. For example, hash functions are the basis for Public Key cryptography and Proof of work, some of the pillars of Bitcoin design. This is what we will cover now.
The content here might feel technical and intimidating, but it’s just there so you don’t find the words alien when they’re used later on. It’s okay if you don’t fully understand the topics at the moment.
|hash function, digital signature, MD5, SHA-256, collision resistance||30 m|
Public key cryptography concepts
|public key, private key, hashing, fingerprint, encryption, decryption, digital signature||20 m|
Optional: Chapter 2 of The GNU Privacy Handbook
This section is mandatory.
After finishing this section, you’ll be able to understand the Bitcoin whitepaper.
|The basic concepts of bitcoin||History of bitcoin, ways of getting bitcoin, price discovery, QR code, satoshi unit, transaction fee, mempool bitcoin exchange, Bitcoin ATM, private and public keys, bitcoin address, base58, 21 million upper limit, confirmations, blockchain, miner, halving, mining incentives, coinbase transaction||2 h|
Consensus in a decentralized network
|Byzantine Fault Tolerance, what is Consensus, Nakamoto Consensus||1.5 h|
|Role of nodes in the network, how the trustless system works, What is a node, what is Consensus, 51% attack, full node, light/SPV node, pruned full notde, archival full node, mining nodes, coinbase transaction, staking nodes, Consensus, authority nods, masternodes, lightning nodes, hard fork, soft fork||1 h|
Proof of work and Consensus
|Proof of Work, Byzantine General’s Problem, Byzantine Fault Tolerance, Nakamoto Consensus, 51% or Majority Attack||15 m|
|What is a wallet, HD wallets, full nodes, SPV light wallets, hot wallet, web wallet, desktop wallets, mobile wallet, hardware wallet, cold storage wallet, paper wallet, brain wallet, multi-signature||30 m|
The Bitcoin Whitepaper
Bitcoin is a living creature. Developers continue working on its codebase, introducing new features, improving the documentation, fixing bugs, etc.
A Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) is a design document for introducing new features or information to Bitcoin. Submitting a new BIP follows a rigorous process to ensure the highest level of quality.
|List of all BIPs with explanation and status, how to add a new BIP||30 m|
However, Bitcoin can also be extended without altering its source code. Although it was designed as a “peer-to-peer version of electronic cash”, Bitcoin provides a number of properties that can be leveraged to create applications on top of it, known as Layer 2 solutions.
In this section we will explore some of the most notable examples.
Improving Bitcoin’s scalability
As we have seen in previous sections, a new block is mined every 10 m on average. These blocks have a size limit of 1 MB. These two facts limit the number of transactions that the network can handle per unit of time.
Multiple solutions have been proposed to solve this problem. Here we will cover some of them.
The Lightning Network is a protocol that tries to improve Bitcoin’s ability to quickly handle payments via routed payment channels.
|Payment Channels, Routed Payment Channels, Lightning Network, layer 2, multisig, hash time locked contracts (HTLCs), watchtowers||3 h|
Other solutions have been proposed to solve the scalability problem:
- Although it is not its main purpose, Segwit is an upgrade to the Bitcoin protocol that helps improving Bitcoin’s scalability by effectively making transactions smaller and solving the malleability bug which enables the Lightning Network
- Increasing the block size, which resulted in multiple forks giving birth to Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Satoshi Vision.
- Schnorr signatures use a faster algorithm to create digital signatures and can combine signatures (from multisig transactions or from transactions with multiple inputs) effectively reducing the transaction size and improving the network capacity.
- Side chains are blockchains (separate from Bitcoins blockchain) that enable Bitcoin’s and other ledger assets to be transferred back and forth between multiple blockchains.
Most of these concepts will be covered in more detail in the upcoming sections.
Tracking assets in the real world (Optional)
Beyond its original use as a digital currency, Bitcoin transactions have been used in clever ways to keep track of assets outside of the blockchain. There are different methods to use transaction metadata to encode the ownership of an asset (a song, a painting, etc.) in the Bitcoin blockchain. These methods are referred to as Colored coins. A notable example is Omni Layer and Tether.
This section contains advanced and somewhat technical resources for those wishing to go deeper.
Bitcoin Transactions (pre-Segwit)
|Multiple inputs, multiple outputs, locking and unlocking transactions||40 m|
|Segregated witness, transaction malleability||1 h|
|The Script language||script programming language, p2pk, p2pkh, p2ms, p2sh||1 h|
|More Segwit||Segregated witness, transaction fee||1 h|
|Merkle tree, merkle tree leaf, merkle root, merkle proof, nonce||3 h|
|Bloom Filters, privacy||1 h|
|Elliptic Curve Cryptography||Elliptic Curve Cryptography||20 m|
Bitcoin Mind Map
You can get the high resolution Bitcoin Mind Map by signing up to our email list.
The Future of Bitcoin
Since Bitcoin is a decentralized project, there is no official roadmap to rely on. However, these topics are part of the community discussion and might become relevant in the future.
|Quantum Computing Risks||Risks of quantum computing in the future||20 m|
|privacy, scalability, smart contracts||30 m|
Bitcoin History and Culture
Optional reads to become familiar with the culture and history of Bitcoin
|Bitcoin Auction: 10,000.00 BTC — Starting Bid 50.00 USD||In March 2010, user “SmokeTooMuch” auctioned 10,000 BTC for $50 (cumulatively), but no buyer was found.|
|The Story of The Bitcoin Pizza||On 22 May 2010,Laszlo Hanyecz made the first real-world transaction by buying two pizzas in Jacksonville, Florida, for 10,000 BTC|
|History of Bitcoin||A full chronological timeline|
|The rise and fall of Mt. Gox||Story of the first Bitcoin exchange|
|The Long Road To SegWit: How Bitcoin’s Biggest Protocol Upgrade Became Reality||The history of Segwit|
|What is Bitcoin Cash (BCH)?||Bitcoin Cash|
|What is Bitcoin SV (BSV)||Bitcoin Satoshi Vison|
Module 2: Ethereum and Smart Contracts
|High level overview||A lighthearted introduction from the founder Vitalik Buterin himself||2.5 h|
Ethereum is a distributed, unbounded state machine. This section will give an overview of what a basic state machine looks like.
|Finite State Machines||Finite state machines||20 m|
|What is a Smart Contract? (Video)||smart contracts, trust, examples of smart contracts||45 m|
The Ethereum Protocol
|What is Ethereum and how does it work? (Video)||Ethereum network, Externally owned accounts, contract accounts, ETH transactions, transaction structure, state, consensus, wei||45 m|
|What is Gas and what role does it play? (Video)||gas, gas price, gas cost, gas limit, block gas limit, , block size, infinite loops, turing completeness, EVM, gwei||45 m|
|Mining Incentives||Block rewards, gas fees||30 m|
|Transactions||Account based blockchains, UTXO, EOA, Contract accounts, replay attacks||1 h|
|Ethereum Virtual Machine (Optional, but recommended)||Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), nonce||20 m|
|Installing Metamask||10 m|
|Getting Test Ether||10 m|
|Simple Smart Contract Example Explained||10 m|
|How to Compile and Deploy a Smart Contract||20 m|
|The Problem With Random Number Generation in Ethereum||10 m|
Ethereum Improvement Proposals
Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) describe standards for the Ethereum platform, including core protocol specifications, client APIs, and contract standards. The full list of EIPs can be found at eips.ethereum.org.
|EIP 1559||EIP, first price auction, EIP 1559, feecap, base fee, inclusion fee (miner tip), base fee burning, Miner extracted value, EIP 3368 (rejected)||45 m|
Miner Extractable Value
This section is optional.
|Miner Extracted Value, time bandit attack, mempool||2 h|
Ethereum 2.0 is a set of upgrades that aim to make the network more scalable, secure, and sustainable. At the time of this writing, the development is still in progress. These are the main technical ideas you need to know to understanding what the upgrade to Ethereum 2.0 represents.
|What is Ethereum 2.0, explained with timeline||Proof of Stake, Validators, Staking, Beacon Chain, Sharding, Casper Protocol, eWASM||25 m|
|Official docs (Optional)||Official docs|
|Proof of Stake||Proof of Stake, staking, forging blocks, docking||25 m|
|Sharding (Note: This video is general and not ETH specific, ignore the block size being represented in MB)||Sharding, inter shard communication||10 m|
Layer 2 is a collective term for solutions designed to help scale your application by handling transactions off the Ethereum mainnet (layer 1), while taking advantage of the robust decentralized security model of mainnet.
|What is Layer 2 Scaling?||Rollups, Plasma, Channels, Sidechains||15 m|
Ethereum History and Culture
The DAO Story
Is it fair to compare Bitcoin and Ethereum?
|The Lion and the Shark: Divergent Evolution in Cryptocurrency (Don’t tell me what to do)|
Module 3: Tokens, DApps, ENS, and Oracles
|The Ultimate Guide to Crypto Tokens||What is a token, examples of tokens, fungible tokens, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), currency tokens, asset backed tokens, reward tokens, governance tokens, utility tokens, security tokens, equity tokens, token standards, interfaces, difference between token and cryptocurrency, Initial Coin Offerings (ICO)||1 h|
|ERC 20||ERC 20 Token Standard||10 m|
|ERC 721||ERC 721 Token Standard||10 m|
|Art NFTs and Trading Platforms||Examples of NFTs with platforms where they are traded||15 m|
Decentralized Applications (DApps)
|How apps work?||Frontend and Backend||10 m|
|Decentralized Application (Dapp), benefits of DApps||15 m|
Exploring a DApp (Cryptokitties)
|Cryptokitties, Fungible and non-fungible assets, ERC-20, ERC-721, Cryptokitties codebase, Events||30 Min|
|Find and explore more DApps||Practical Exercise||1 h|
Ethereum Name Service (ENS)
|What is Domain Name System (DNS)||Domain Name Service||10 m|
Ethereum Name Service (ENS)
|ENS, Registry, Resolvers, Namehash||30 m|
|Register an ENS Domain||Practical Exercise||30 m|
|ENS FAQ||Controller, registrant, ownership, reverse record||15 m|
|Oracles, software and hardware oracles, deterministic blockchain, Decentralized Oracles, Chainlink basics, trusted execution environment||30 m|
The Oracle Problem
|blockchain middleware, oracle problem, need for seperate network, centralized oracle risks, need for decentralized oracles||30 m|
|What is Chainlink and how it works||The chainlkin protocol: Reputation contract, order matching contract, aggregating contract||10 m|
Optional: The Chainlink Whitepaper
Who Made This
This project was collaborated on by Harsh Strongman and Sergio.
Harsh Strongman is a Chartered Accountant and entrepreneur. He has a self-taught education in Computer Science. He is the owner of Life Math Money, the #1 self-improvement website for men. He can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram. Sign up for his free weekly newsletter here.
Sergio is an aerospace engineer by education, and has worked at Amazon (developing Alexa) as a software engineer. Currently, he works at eBay. He is also a Certified Professional Cloud Architect (Google Cloud), and is the owner of Your Coding Teacher, a website aimed at helping you supercharge your career. He can be found on Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram. His newsletter signup is available on the sidebar of his website.
Special thanks to Ash M for being our alpha-test student and providing us with valuable feedback along the way.