What Programming Language Is Bitcoin Written in and Why?

Programming is the key building block of cryptocurrency technology. It provides their functionality while also governing these complex ecosystems.

Theoretically, any programming language can be used to create and develop cryptocurrencies however there are only a few key candidates. In this article, I will be explaining the programming languages of Bitcoin and the benefits they bring.

So without further ado, let’s jump right in.


Bitcoin’s core code was programmed using C++. This popular coding architecture provides an object-oriented language with high customizability, security, and efficiency. Launched in 1985 it has matured into a robust and reliable language making it a key fit for a security focused protocol such as Bitcoin.

What programming language does Bitcoin use?

All in all, Bitcoin is not written in a single programming language but rather in a vast array of them. The most popular are JAVA, Python, and C++. Ultimately, it is a protocol that anyone can contribute to with any Turing complete language they please.

That being said, the founder of Bitcoin Satoshi and the core development team primarily programmed using C++. Moreover, this is also the case when it comes to the reference implementation client.

So now you may be wondering, what is C++? Launched in 1985, C++ is an object-oriented language that is highly customizable.

Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup it is a generic programming language that is functional while also featuring highly efficient CPU management and low-level memory manipulation.

Why is Bitcoin written in C++?

Although Satoshi did not specify the reasons he wrote in C++ there are several factors that make it a good fit. Here are 7 reasons:

1. Maturity 

C++ has been around for over three and a half decades. As a result, it has developed into a robust battle-tested system with a vast number of bugs and glitches solved. For a protocol that prioritizes security, this is key for Bitcoins development.

2. Widely adopted 

According to the PYPR popularity index, C++ is the fifth most popular programming language with a total share of 6.5%. Ultimately, this popularity facilitates collaboration and the development of the Bitcoin protocol as people can easily contribute to the code.

In other words, if Satoshi wanted this technology to be adopted by the masses it would only be logical to pick a widely accepted language to attract developers.

3. Enhanced memory management

All in all, C++ provides complete control over memory management for users. This is important to security-focused applications such as Bitcoin as it prevents an overload of data processing.

This can hinder the network by overloading it therefore control is needed to limit this possibility.

4. Optimizable

C++ is renowned for its ability to be optimized for performance. With a network that relies on quick validation and the propagation of millions of transactions, this is vital.

5. Interoperability

Often C++ is praised for its compatibility. Ultimately, it is a portable language with programs being interoperable across operating systems and interfaces.

As a result, the Bitcoin source code and mining software such as BFGMiner and CGMiner can be run on any operating system. This includes Linux, Windows, and macOS to name a few.

This also facilitates collaboration as it allows anyone to contribute regardless of the software they use.

6. Customizable

As C++ is both a high and low-level programming language, therefore, offers a greater degree of customizability for developers. Ultimately, small-level details can be managed as well as the construction of high-level abstractions.

7. Satoshi

Overall, the founder of Bitcoin known as Satoshi led the charge in C++ integration in the early days. Ultimately, he was the main catalyst for its continued use.

If early developers wanted to contribute to the protocol the easiest way was through C++ as that was the primary language Satoshi wrote the core code in. Not to mention, this code has set the foundation for the network to this day.

If you want to view this article in a more visual format then please check out my video below:


Although Bitcoin is not bound to a single programming language the protocol is grounded in C++. Since its inception, this language has been used by core developers.

This is due to its enhanced security and customizability to name a few. However, if this development continues is anyone’s guess, after all, the protocol is changing at a rapid pace.

Not to mention, new and improved languages are introduced every year. I hope you found this article useful and thank you for reading it.

Want to learn about SegWit vs Native SegWit? Click here to read my previous article.