The digital currency Bitcoin once seemed poised to become a viable alternative to physical money. Wired has delved into its history, from the origins in a pseudonymously-written research paper, to its move out of the subculture shadow and the rapid disintegration that followed. Originally conceived as a libertarian alternative to corrupt global banking systems, Bitcoin was seen by some as potentially the greatest disruptive force since the internet itself, with units reaching a valuation of $29.57 this past June. But as its founder vanished, and unscrupulous characters anxious to profit on its popularity emerged, Bitcoin quickly went from shining hope to cautionary tale. Advocates are working hard to rescue it from the back alleys of the internet, where one can use Bitcoins to buy illegal goods of all kinds — and allegedly even hire contract killers. With the identity of its creator still unknown, it's safe to say the last chapter in the Bitcoin story has yet to be written.