Bitcoins are a virtual currency that was created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is also the name of the open source software that Nakamoto designed to use the currency. Bitcoin is also the P2P network that was formed to run the software.
As of June 2011, there was about 6.5 million Bitcoins that exist. Bitcoins can currently be used for a small number of online services, charitable donations, tangible goods, and work-for-hire.
Some websites that accept Bitcoins include WikiLeaks, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Pioneer One, Freenet, and the Free Software Foundation. The Bitcoin community points out that it is harder to counterfeit Bitcoins than it is with actual money.
However you can steal Bitcoins simply by accessing an owner’s hard drive. One user recently had $487,749 worth of Bitcoins get stolen (or 25,000 BTC). Fortunately for the victim, BlockExplorer allows users to monitor every transaction that takes place using Bitcoins. Bitcoins are trading at an average of above $19 as of right now.