Bitcoin is one of the first implementations of a concept called crypto-currency, which was first described in 1998 by Wei Dai on the cypherpunks mailing list. Building upon the notion that money is any object, or any sort of record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context, Bitcoin is designed around the idea of a new form of money that uses cryptography to control its creation and transactions, rather than relying on central authorities.
In 2009, the first Bitcoin specification and proof of concept was published in a cryptography mailing list by a member under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. Towards the end of 2010 Satoshi left the project, saying he had moved on to other things. The creator of Bitcoin never revealed his identity and simply left his invention to the world. The origin and the motivation behind Bitcoin are still today a great source of mystery.
Since 2010, the Bitcoin community has grown with many developers working on the project. During June and July 2011, Bitcoin suddenly gained media attention leading to a massive buy rally. The resulting bubble slowly deflated through the latter part of 2011, and since then the value of Bitcoin has slowly climbed once again back to its 2011 heights.
On September 27th 2012, the Bitcoin Foundation was created in an effort to standardize, protect, and promote Bitcoin.