Meet Zooko Wilcox, one of the great minds of the crypto world, creator of Zcash, the cryptocurrency focused on privacy and anonymity. A character who has always been in cypherpunk terrain, standing out for his work on decentralized platforms.

Unot from developers, computer security specialists, hackers and cypherpunk most recognized in the crypto world is Zooko Wilcox O'Hern. And it is that thanks to his ingenuity and the extensive career and experience that this computer science teacher has had, he has earned a privileged place with the most recognized cryptographers by all.

In the next chapter of Bit2Me Academy you will meet the founder of ZCash, his abilities, skills, achievements and the multiple contributions he has made to the ecosystem of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Concentrate and enjoy.

The beginning

Zooko Wilcox O'Hern was born in Phoenix, Arizona in May 1974. From an early age, Wilcox was drawn to the wonders of computing and science, as his father, Ron Wilcox, was a very versatile computer engineer, who had developed very important jobs for the company. Texas Instruments. Where he participated extensively in the design and creation of one of the first home computers.

At the time, Zooko Wilcox, who was just 5 years old, was a participant in one of these rudimentary computers, the TI 99/4. That her father had brought her home so that she and her brothers could play and have fun. At first, what the brothers did was write simple sentences in the computer's own language, BASIC; and later they began to develop colorful and much more striking figures in a program that was installed in the TI 99/4, called Logo.

This program worked as a drawing and painting program designed for children, where they could create simple animations and reproduce them. But for Zooko, who from a very young age was surrounded by her father's inventiveness, he was motivated not only by having a computer at home and making figures on it, but he took pains to know how to use it in its entirety. Having this resource was an inspiration for Zooko.

Later, when Zooko was 9 years old, her father was hired by the Colorado Defense Service. In addition, at that time, the tensions of the cold war between the United States and the USSR were ending, which led Zooko to think that hopeful times would come that would end the war and the differences between countries. A few years later, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the appearance of the internet, where people could communicate with each other through a computer, Zooko further developed her hopeful thinking. And she thought about the idea that the limits and borders between countries would also end.

Cypherpunk movement

All these situations led Zooko to submerge a few years later into the cypherpunk movement, which developed during that time, and which was consolidated later in the 90s, when Zooko was a teenager.

When he met the movement cypherpunkZooko was seduced by the free spirit evoked by his members. Those who firmly persecuted and defended the right to privacy of the users of softwares and applications that made financial operations through these digital systems. Within the movement Zooko adopted an alias, and it became known in the community under the pseudonym Zooko.

When David Chaum unveiled the cypherpunk mailing list To express her ideas on how to create a digital payment system that could not be tracked, Zooko was one of the first to join this list. It was a kind of club where members could debate and make their ideas and opinions known, so Zooko drew on important information and knowledge that would later lead him to develop one of the most recognized cryptocurrencies worldwide for his high level of privacy and anonymity.

Beginnings in cryptography and in the Bitcoin system

Zooko Wilcox began her studies in computer science and computing at the University of Colorado, but in 1996 she decided to leave university and dedicate herself to what would be her first job in the crypto world. At first, Zooko started doing work for DigiCash, the first cryptocurrency attempt that was being developed by Chaum in the 90s, but which was not successful. So, later, Zooko decided to resume his studies at the university and by 1998 he graduated as a computer scientist.

For the year 2000 Zooko launched his first computer project, creating the system Mojo nation that allowed users to download and share files independently and autonomously. Later in 2007 Zooko launched a system known as Tahoe Least-Authority File Store, a project that would lead him to be widely recognized in the world of computing and computing.

Tahoe Least-Authority File Store was a special file system that operated with an unmatched high level of security. In addition, it operated completely decentralized, with open source and with high fault tolerance. Through this system they could perform online backups or be used as a web server to share data in a distributed and secure way.

Then a year later, by the end of 2008 on the cyberpunk mailing list, Zooko heard about a person under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto and his cryptocurrency project Bitcoin. In fact, Zooko himself in 2008 had commented on the mailing list, who was working on a cryptocurrency at the time. Subsequently, in 2011 Zooko made the first purchase of bitcoin coins, demonstrating his support and enthusiasm for the nascent cryptocurrency.

Wilcox as Satoshi Nakamoto

Since Zooko Wilcox's influence and knowledge of crypto was quite extensive, Andrew Miller accused him of being the possible Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin. And so much was his security, that Miller wanted to demonstrate that he was correct, "covertly" denouncing Zooko to the community.

However, this never happened; rather, Miller's actions led Zooko to want to exchange crypto and privacy knowledge with Miller. For which she credits her for helping her discover the Zero Knowledge Protocols (more specifically the,  ZK-snarks) that underpin the creation of the Zcash cryptocurrency.

Creation of Zcash, the private cryptocurrency

In 2014 Zooko Wilcox founded the company Zerocoin Electric Coin Company (ZECC) and the Zcash Foundation, in charge of developing the security and privacy cryptocurrency Zcash. Her knowledge of cryptography and her experiences within the cyberpunk movement led Zooko to develop this cryptocurrency. The goal is to create a means through which users can enjoy true privacy and anonymity in their financial transactions.

Initially, the Zcash project, known at the time as zerocash, was based on a side chain Bitcoin. But, some time later, Zooko and her team decided to completely separate the cryptocurrency and work it on a completely independent blockchain. Thus, currently, through Zcash, users can make transactions and use their money freely and anonymously; something that more famous cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and EthereumThey cannot offer their community.

To guarantee the high level of privacy that Zcash, Zooko and their team of developers have, they implemented the zero knowledge tests. In this way, miners can validate the transactions made without having to know the information on it. Things like origin, destination, and linked amounts in each transaction remain hidden.

Creating the Blake3 hash function

One of Zooko Wilcox's most recent jobs is to have been involved in creating the hash function. Blake3. This function, which is better than the old Blake2 algorithm, is intended to offer secure hashes using a very fast implementation. Implementation is as secure as SHA-256, but being Blake3, 17 times faster and more efficient. Even compared to SHA-512 and SHA-3, Blake3 is superior in speed without sacrificing, according to its creators, the security of the implementation.

The development work for Blake3 was a joint effort between Zooko, Jack O'Connor, Samuel Neves and Jean-Philippe Aumasson. The cost of the project was supported by the Electric Coin Company itself and Teserakt.