Learning about Digital Cash

Timothy C. May tcmay at netcom.com
Sat Mar 26 10:50:58 PST 1994

We've recently had a flurry of postings about digital money, and the
apparently new realization by some that "double spending" is a serious
issue. Folks, this is not a new issue---this is the core issue of all
serious efforts on digital money (and, indeed, is the core issue of
money, period).

I urge everone interested in digital money to dig up and read the
various articles that have appeared, including one of David Chaum's in
the July or August of 1992 "Scientific American." The usual places
apply, as always"

- the usual books: Schneier, Brassard, Denning, etc.

- Proceedings of the Crypto Conferences, aka "Advances in Cryptology,"
part of the Springer-Verlag series "Lecture Notes in Computer
Science." (A series of silver-grey paperbacks, available in many
technical bookstores, and in many university bookstores and

- ditto for Eurocrypt and other crypto conferences.

I urge this because there is little to be gained by slowly reinventing
the wheel. The recent realization here by some that "double spending"
is a Big Issue is indicative of this. Double spending, and related
issues, is obviously just the _start_ of the really interesting problems
with any digital money scheme. This is the _starting point_ of most
discussions, not a belated realization.

As I often say, I don't want to sound snippy or holier-than-thou here.
It's just that there's a basic corpus of papers on the
highly-technical areas of crypto that everyone working in these areas
has to be assumed to be familiar with.

Rocket scientists have to know that rockets don't work by pushing on
air, and cryptologists have to know what's already been written about.

With more than 700 people on the Cypherpunks list---though a far
smaller group appears to be actively posting--it is natural that a
range of backgrounds, interest levels, and dedication to the issues
will exist. I'm not saying that only "experts" in digital money should
speak on these issues, only that the basic papers ought to at least be

Best wishes for all,

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay at netcom.com       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^859433 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."

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