An introduction to the phenomenon
There are a few staple realms of influence within the worldwide web these days. Some examples include iTunes, Google search, or perhaps World of Warcraft. On a daily basis, each service affects a variety of individuals, from those possessing only a remote interest in the tech universe to others with enough skill to program their own game. But, perhaps the most controversial online phenomenon in today's technology galaxy is Bit Torrent, a peer-to-peer protocol that has, until recently, flown under the radar of piracy exorcists.
Bit Torrent is the brainchild of Bram Cohen, a thirty-something computer programmer from Manhattan. Although he flunked out of the University at Buffalo in the mid-90s, Cohen crafted his web-development skills by passing through a few dot com companies during their heyday in the latter part of the decade. In 2001, he set out on his own to work on Bit Torrent, a program he sought to make that would be the most efficient file download protocol in the history of the Internet.
So, what does Bit Torrent do?
Essentially, Bit Torrent gives the user access to a massive network for downloading software, from games to movies to a variety of tools and applications. Just now we tested the Bit Torrent universe by downloading one of the site's "Most Popular Downloads", strategy game Civilization III: Gold Edition .
Sure, of course I own the original copy. Absolutely. See, that's the whole, somewhat sketchy premise behind Bit Torrent. Like many peer-to-peer transfer sites, from Nintendo emulators to Limewire, Bit Torrent offers a plethora of free downloads so long as the user promises – like a good boy or girl – that they own the original. Without that, you see, Bit Torrent is a bad, bad place to frequent, and in recent months it has come under the critical eye of those weeding out online piracy programs.
Now that we've given you a bit of insight into what Bit Torrent is all about, stick around for some coverage of the network and how it actually works. It's a fascinating little gem, and one that is sure to stir up controversy as it becomes more and more mainstream (unless the pirate-hunters have their way).