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Basic concepts of Bitcoin


Hi... bare with me please. I'm trying to understand a few concepts regarding Bitcoin and I know these may be some n00b questions to you.
1) First the wallet itself. I have a wallet named multibit.wallet which I understand is my wallet of bitcoins. What I'm not getting is the export and import of private keys. If the wallet is the actual money, what are the keys for and what should I be concerned with backing up: the wallet or the keys themselves? Are the keys solely for when you password encrypting the wallet? All the docs I've read indicate that the wallet file itself is what you want to keep on a spare USB - so what are the keys?

Also if I install a new copy of Multibit on a new machine and I create a wallet, can I import the private keys into that new wallet or do I import the old wallet file? I guess my concern is if I created a new wallet would my address change and any pending transactions would go to the old wallet.
2) Regarding the actual bitcoins... was there ever a time when a person could just straightforward purchase them from a source or have all the coins in existence to this day been as a result of mining activity? That is, aside from miners how did other coins come into existence? Apparently the first transaction ever was from the mysterious author of BTC making a payment to himself.
3) Hypothetical question... since websites allow you to buy and sell coins online, is there anything from preventing someone from building a website and using the developers API to simply buy coins from the network without actually having money (eg. just writing a site and coding that you have $10,000 to spend) or does it poll the network for your funding first?
Thanks for being patient with me :)

In response to your first question, I hope this helps - [nofollow]


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