Bitcoin

BTC Keychain / Flickr

There’s long been a mystery surrounding the creation of Bitcoin, the anonymous, digital currency that emerged online in early 2009. The person who wrote the original code used the name Satoshi Nakamoto. He created a way to send a new kind of cash online without any intermediary, such as a bank.

But who is Satoshi Nakamoto? He communicated with other digital currency enthusiasts only by email – never in person or by phone. And then, in 2011, he stopped communicating altogether.

Ed Andrieski / AP Photo

An Oregon political campaign wants your digital donations. The group behind the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana says it's now accepting bitcoin contributions.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia just announced it will start accepting bitcoin for hotel bookings. The online travel site is embracing the volatile, virtual currency on what it calls a "test-and-learn" basis.

Effective as of Wednesday, the digital currency will be a payment option, but only for hotel bookings on the company's U.S. site. 

Rae Ellen Bichell

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated the ATM was the first in the U.S. 

Seattle has just become home to the first bitcoin ATM in the U.S. Northwest.

Tom Banse

Here's a surprising fact: the largest bitcoin mine in North America is located on the outskirts of Wenatchee, Washington.

It's not a mine in the traditional sense. In these mines, you won't have helmets, lamps or pickaxes, and there's no danger of cave in. In this case, the mine consists of two warehouses that have been converted into a data center.

University of Puget Sound

As a 2007 alum of University of Puget Sound, Nicolas Cary has already established himself. The 28-year-old is the CEO of Blockchain, which runs the world's most popular digital wallet for bitcoin, a virtual currency.

But now he's making headlines for his bitcoin contribution to UPS. Cary has electronically transferred just over 14.5 bitcoins to the university, which was then exchanged into $10,000 actual U.S. dollars. It's reportedly the first donation of its kind to a U.S. college or university.

Wikimedia Commons

Have you been swept up in bitcoin mania?

Bitcoins purchased at the beginning of this year were valued at $13.50. As of Dec. 9, they were trading at close to $900. That’s a rise of more than 6000 percent!

Many folks are eyeing the virtual currency as an easy way to make huge profits. But KPLU financial commentator Greg Heberlein urges caution. Bitcoin prices may very well continue their march into the stratosphere. Or the bubble could burst.