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MIT Technology Review

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  • Bram Cohen

    Age:
    29

    Bram Cohens creation, BitTorrent, answers a deceptively simple question: if someone requests a file over a network, and multiple people on the network possess the file, why should only one person send the file in its entirety to the requester? Cohens revolutionary solution: send tiny chunks of the file from multiple users, eliminating the bandwidth crunch that results when a single user sends a large file in its entirety. A 400-megabyte video file that could take hours for a single user to distribute can be broken up into thousands of pieces, each of which takes only a few seconds to send. The impact of the technology that Cohen developed goes far beyond the world of illicit file-swapping: game companies and Linux developers are now experimenting with BitTorrent distribution as well. Cohen is humble about his creation and its potential impact. It is, he says, “just a way to move bits around.”