Almost 12 years have passed since Bram Cohen introduced a faster way of sharing large files through the internet. The BitTorrent protocol, his unique invention and pride, made its debut in 2004, allowing computers to download a single file from multiple sources simultaneously, while, at the same time, uploading the sections as they become available to others.
The idea of the peer-to-peer BitTorrent protocol, however, was born somewhat earlier. In 2001 Cohen even quit MojoNation in order to start the protocol’s development. It is often argued that MojoNation served as an inspiration for the enthusiastic programmer. MojoNation at the time, was in fact a very unique and interesting program that allowed people to break confidential files down to small pieces of encrypted data, and distribute these pieces on computers that had the MojoNation software installed. When someone wanted to download a copy of the confidential file, he/she would have to download it from several computers all at once.
Seeing that this concept was perfect for a file-sharing program, Cohen decided to act upon it. Being adept in computers as he was and having learned the BASIC programming language at the age of 5, he had no problem in writing the code; he wrote the original code for the protocol and the BitTorrent client implementation in Python and so the genius invention was born.
The invention of the BitTorrent protocol really changed the way we download files from the web. Regardless if they are large ones, or small ones, by using Cohen’s protocol, we can download them faster than ever. In fact, the more popular the file one is trying to download, the faster one will eventually download it, this because if more people are downloading it means more people are uploading it as well!
Alongside the protocol, the BitTorrent client was also created. The client uses so called trackers that provide a list of files available for transfer and allow the client to find peer users who may transfer the files, known as seeders. You can download the original BitTorrent client from BitTorrent.com, it offers three versions to download, one that is free but has ads, another one that has no ads and costs you $4.95 USD /year and the Pro version that costs you $19.95 USD/year and is bundled with many cool features.
The founder of the most popular file sharing program now lives in the US, in San Francisco Bay Area, alongside his wife Jenna and their three children. He says he enjoys original origami making, puzzle-assembling and juggling, but recreational mathematics is still his greatest passion. He maintains a blog http://bramcohen.com/ where he expresses all his ‘geeky’ opinions! Throughout the years, Cohen has received numerous awards for his work on the BitTorrent protocol, some of them include:
- 2004 Wired Rave Award
- 2005 MIT Technology Review TR35
- 2005 Time’s 100 Most Influential People
- 2006 USENIX STUG Award
- 2010 Internet Evolution 100
It is safe to say that the invention of the BitTorrent protocol and its other co-occurring aspects are one of the very best things that happened in the file-sharing segment of the Internet development in our time. Bran Cohen, the genius behind all this, deserves all the appreciations he can get for being the mastermind that forever changed the way we share files!
The numbers also confirm just how great his invention is. The total number of monthly BitTorrent users can be estimated to more than a quarter of a billion with 15 to 27 million concurrent users at any given time, making it the most popular file sharing method out there!