The Bitcoin white paper was published in 2008 by an anonymous figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin then launched in early 2009. At the time, our global economy was in the midst of a collapse.
A distrust of the global banking system was, in part, what inspired Nakamoto to create a digital currency in the first place. At first glance, our monetary systems seem fine and dandy. We can’t deny, credit and debit cards are fast and easy. But let’s take a closer look:
To use a credit or debit card to make digital payments, we need a bank or third party to manage everyone's accounts. As a result, our society has greatly expanded the roles of banks and credit card companies in our financial systems.
And let's not forget that credit and debit cards make global transactions a total pain! If you want to send money to Aunt Jessica halfway across the world, it’s often expensive and slow.
Computer scientists decided to solve this issue by creating global, digital currency that would not rely on central banks or governments.
After much deliberation (and many failed attempts by other cryptographers and computer scientists), Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin protocol, introducing the world to the first ever distributed currency.
P.S. While we're on the subject of protocols... the Bitcoin Protocol is a set of rules that govern the Bitcoin network. The Bitcoin (capital B) network uses a cryptocurrency called bitcoin (lower-case b). You spend bitcoins. The rules governing the whole ecosystem are explained in the Bitcoin Protocol.