At least 54 different digital currencies have been created in the past seven months.
That’s according to CoinWik.org, a Wiki site tracking digital currencies.
The most recent is Asicoin, born on Sept. 11. It’s advertised as a coin designed just for ASIC-mining hardware. ASIC chips are the most efficient types of chips for mining Bitcoin, and top of the line miners can retail for tens of thousands of dollars. So in theory Asiccoin is designed to equalise the mining playing field.
But the consensus seems to be that Asiccoin and the vast majority of the alternative cryptocurrency galaxy should be thought of more like penny stocks that are poised to go nowhere. Only a handful are worth more than a dollar, and not all the coins appear to be active.
Still, because the software behind Bitcoin is open source, it requires little effort to co-opt it, give it your own spin, and advertise it as the next big thing.
“Bitcoin is the first, litecoin makes the mining more fair, ppcoin is suppose to be environmentally friendly using the proof of stack concept, namecoin is distributed dns system, primecoin finds prime numbers. And I think that’s it for coins that have a purpose,” Melvin Ng, an active Bitcoin user who most recently ran Canadian Bitcoin market CADBitcoin, told us in an email. “Because it’s open source, anyone can take a copy and make their own coin, so the coins above are kind of the only coins that have value.”
We’ve talked about how these alternative digital currencies’ prices have mostly moved in tandem with Bitcoin’s movements, although on any given day one “coin” can buck the trend and scream higher. Today it’s Colossus Coin, which is up 83%. Yesterday it was Quark Coin, which was up more than 200%.
Wikipedia itself has a shorter list of Bitcoin clones, though there is not a one-to-one overlap between that list and CoinWik’s. For instance, CoinWik does not list TagCoin, a currency designed for purchasing “rewards” from an online retail site called TagBond.com.
There is now a site that explains how to make your own digital currency; we may or may not attempt to do so in the coming days…