The mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto is often credited with inventing the blockchain, the technology behind the recent boom in cryptocurrency and decentralization. But long before Nakamoto published his seminal newspaper that modeled Bitcoin as we know it, Ripple the chief officer of XRP technology David Schwartz had already elaborated a similar concept.
Almost 30 years ago, on 25 August 1988, Schwartz filed a patent for a "distributed multi-level computer system" that would be "preferably" run on "personal computers". The technology has been designed to exploit the combined processing power of numerous devices to perform unique tasks.
Three years later, Schwartz was finally granted the patent. While the business ultimately did not resolve, we talked with the Ripple CTO about what its vision for the distributed system involved – and how it overlaps today's blockchain technology.
The history of origin
One of the main problems of Schwartz, whose background is in cryptography, was trying to solve the way in which to distribute computing-intensive activities (which otherwise would have been impossible to process from a single machine) to a network of devices.
" A distributed computer system is a network of computers, each of which works independently but in a cooperative manner, one with the other.The versatility of a computer system can be increased by using a plurality of small computers, such as personal computers, to perform simple tasks and a central computer for more complex tasks, "reads the patent documentation. "Such an arrangement reduces the load on the control computer and reduces both the volume and the cost of data transmission."
"I was working on graphics rendering issues that require significant amounts of CPU power," Schwartz told Hard Fork. Here's how the idea for his invention was born – and ironically, how it stopped.
"CPUs improved performance much faster than expected and there did not seem to be much need to dynamically distribute tasks to the CPUs with the processing power available," Schwartz said.
But before this so-called distributed computer system was archived, the cryptographer and his team were able to perform some technology experiments.
"We had a functioning implementation that generated fractal images," Schwartz told Hard Fork. "You could add more CPU to the cluster and the workloads would dynamically distribute to them."
Distributed computing and blockchain technology
That said, Schwartz's system was all but perfect. For one, establishing a connection between various computers was much more complicated than it is now. Another challenge had to do with the subdivision of the expected tasks into smaller parts that can be processed and transferred from one computer to another
While the Internet's invention has solved for the plus the problem of interconnection, some of the problems encountered by Schwartz in the 90s continues to persist today. Indeed, breaking down large network components into smaller portions is a challenge that Ethereum is still trying to solve .
Regarding Schwartz's adventure in computer science distributed 30 years ago, he says that his work is still useful today.
"It seems like the things I've worked on in the past keep coming in the things I'm working on now," added Schwartz. "I think it's more just because a lot of my work is in the same general area of distributed computing and cryptography."
If you are interested in Schwartz's previous or current work: next Tuesday (21 August) we are hosting a TNW Answers session, where he will answer all the questions you may have. Leave your Q. here
Published August 16, 2018 at 12:33 UTC