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Who is Charlie "SatoshiLite" Lee?

Charlie Lee is a computer scientist by profession and is best known in the cryptocurrency sector for his creation of Litecoin, a digital currency. He also works as the managing director of Litecoin Foundation.

Photo by Michael Förtsch / Unsplash

1. Who is Charlie Lee?

Charlie Lee is a computer scientist by profession and is best known in the cryptocurrency sector for his creation of Litecoin, a digital currency. He also works as the managing director of Litecoin Foundation. He has also worked for Coinbase, another cryptocurrency company, until July 2013.

Charlie Lee was born in Ivory Coast, a part of the West African nation, in 1979. Charlie Lee, at the age of 13, moved to the United States of America with his family. There he graduated from high school in the year 1995.

Charlie Lee graduated from the prominent and topmost university in the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in the year 2000. From the same university, he also graduated with a master’s degree in computer science engineering.

Even during his early days, Charlie Lee had a keen interest inaptitude for computer technology. He worked as a top tech associate in the early 2000s in most high-tech companies, including Guidewire Software and Google. He started developing the idea of Litecoin while working as a software engineer at Google.

Charlie Lee was primarily responsible for projects such as Youtube Mobile and Chrome Operating System when he was working at Google. In 2011, Lee learned about the digital currency Bitcoin while working at Google. He came to know about Bitcoin from an article on Silk Road.

During that time, Lee was looking for many ways to get involved in the trading of gold, and this article proved a boon to him. The article about Bitcoin changed his life entirely and proved to be a turning point in his professional career.

His approach to the Federal Reserve System was always skeptical due to his background and economic beliefs. This belief was the prime reason Charlie Lee became highly interested in Bitcoin and the latest blockchain technology that supported it. He always wanted to find a way less reliant on standard financial means, and Bitcoin helped him find one.

2. What is Litecoin?

And why was it created? Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and an open-source software project released under the MIT/X11 license. Its launch was under the idea of creating and transferring coins based on an open-source cryptographic protocol. Litecoin was one of those digital currencies which was not under the management of any central authority.

Charlie Lee released it through an open-source client on the GitHub site on October 7th, 2011. Charlie Lee was a Google Employee and a former Engineering Director at Coinbase when he released Litecoin. The network of Litecoin went live a week after its release, i.e., on October 13th, 2011.

It was described as a fork of the Bitcoin Core client with the differences primarily with a block generation time, which was decreased in Litecoin by 2.5 minutes.

The differences were also seen with an increase in the maximum number of coins, having a different hash algorithm. It improved with an increase in the total maximum supply cap value and a slightly modified Graphical User Interface.

Charlie Lee released Litecoin after his release of Fairbrix failed at the cryptocurrency market. The adjustments in Litecoin were primarily made so that it would be an improved digital currency compared to Bitcoin.

Though Litecoin got created after Bitcoin, Charlie Lee presented it as an alternative to Bitcoin rather than as a competitor to Bitcoin.

The main reason for his doing so was that he was under the belief that Litecoin could be more useful in smaller transactions such as online shopping or purchases. In contrast, Bitcoin would be more used in significant operations internationally.

He worked at the popular digital currency exchange Coinbase since the release of Litecoin. He left his job at Coinbase on June 2017 with the idea of spending more time on Litecoin and polishing its work process.

3. What are some of the limitations of Bitcoin that Lee’s Litecoin has overcome?

Though Charlie Lee presented Litecoin as an alternative to Bitcoin, in some ways, Litecoin has proved to be better than Bitcoin. This reason was due to the improvisation done by Charlie Lee on Litecoin, seeing the limitations faced by Bitcoin. Some of the reasons by which Litecoin is a better counterpart than Bitcoin can be under discussion as follows:

3.1. The Litecoin Network has a better processing time for every block. It aims to undergo block processing every 2.5 times, which is quicker than the block processing time of Bitcoin, which is 10 minutes. This attribute proves that Litecoin has faster transaction confirmation compared to Bitcoin.

3.2. The proof of work algorithm used in the script of Litecoin is a sequential memory-hard function. This feature helps Litecoin is having more memory asymptotically than the algorithm housed by Bitcoin, which is not memory-hard.

3.3. The devices used for mining Litecoin such as the FPGA and ASIC devices, are more efficient than the tools used for mining Bitcoin, which is the SHA-256. This feature in Litecoin is due to the presence of the script algorithm.

3.4. But this feature has a drawback; though these devices are more efficient at work, they are more complicated to create. Along with this, they are also more expensive to produce and have to be dealt with carefully.

4. What are Charlie Lee’s plans for Litecoin?

Though Litecoin has seen phenomenal success in the sector of cryptocurrencies, during the spring of 2018, rumors began to strike that Charlie Lee was leaving Litecoin. The stories were also briefing that he was planning to leave Litecoin to help this digital to evolve further in the leadership of others.

His prime reason for thinking so was that his involvement as the pioneer of this digital currency would lead to Litecoin becoming fully decentralized in the coming years.

As of early reports stating as early as May 2018, Charlie Lee has not provided any plans regarding his involvement with Litecoin nor starting any other digital currencies. He has also not indicated that he willfully extricated himself from Litecoin, the digital currency he created.

He has stated that he will focus on developing Litecoin and keep updating the community of digital currencies that is more evolved than before.

5. Can Litecoin make Bitcoin Obsolete?

Before concluding, let us analyze the following facts.

5.1. Though many other coins in the cryptocurrency market have different functionality, there are not running a network as distributed and strong as Litecoin.

5.2. These coins do not have wide adoptions on exchanges, nor do they provide many wallet choices or liquidity, which Litecoin delivers efficiently.

5.3. Digital currencies should always be judged by practical factors, not by unproven facts or word of mouth. Litecoin is safe, secure, and battle-tested as Bitcoin but is also faster than Bitcoin.

5.4 Many investors have realized that Bitcoin is sub-optimal due to low speeds and high costs. Litecoin solves such problems efficiently and can be the best option in the digital commerce industry for the future.

5.5. One of the noteworthy features of Litecoin is that it doesn’t entertain risks such as privacy coins and smart contract platform coins.

Litecoin also provides better money laundering options than Bitcoin or other digital currencies.

So, will Litecoin make Bitcoin obsolete in the future? Practically Yes. Not to forget, Litecoin is a digital currency, and a Bitcoin forked cryptocurrency.

So many people might doubt that the lightning network will make the usage of Bitcoin more popular worldwide. Yes, it will. But the more the usage of Bitcoin happens, the more will be the usage of Litecoin as it is as Bitcoin forked cryptocurrency.

6. Explain Lee’s experiments with other cryptocurrencies and Coinbase?

Like many other talented computer engineers and scientists who were also early adopters of Bitcoin, even Charlie Lee started experimenting in the mining domain.

During his experiments, he came into contact with one of the developers by the name of Mike Hearn. Mike Hearn was a developer who had previously worked on Bitcoin's core blockchain client software.

The conversations with Mike Hearn and his interest in Bitcoins infatuated Lee to try his hand at developing his digital currency in the cryptocurrency domain. He wanted to create his digital currency by modeling it similarly to Bitcoin.

There were a massive amount of people during those days who wanted to build the next Bitcoin. Unlike these, Lee was still an amateur as the concept of Bitcoin was still new to him. Even then, Lee took up his first cryptocurrency project and named it Fairbrix. He developed this digital currency in September in the year 2011.

Fairbrix got modeled after both Tenebrix and Bitcoin. Tenebrix was a digital currency released earlier in the same year. Lee and his team members who developed Fairbrix had used large portions of the source code of Tenebrix.

This attribute was the reason Fairbrix failed, as Tenebrix housed a Graphical User Interface that was not user-friendly. It was also due to a pre-mining issue and software enclosed by the digital currency, which had lots of bugs and left the digital currency very much fatal to attacks.

The digital currency was susceptible to 51% chances of attack and was not a completely useless endeavor. This development made Lee work on a new digital currency, which was when he formulated Litecoin by adopting the same proof of work protocol that he had used in Fairbrix.