An underground website for purchasing a huge assortment of merchandise, including electronics, jewelry and especially drugs, both legal and illegal. Access to Silk Road was via the Tor browser, and all transactions used bitcoins. Branded as the "Anonymous Market" and launched in 2011, Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in October 2013, and founder Ross Ulbricht, who used the handle Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR), was arrested. Re-opened a month later, Silk Road 2.0 was taken down at the end of 2014. Soon after, Diabolus Market, another dark website, renamed itself Silk Road 3.0 to take up the slack. See Tor
Short and Sweet
Lasting barely three years, Silk Road triggered the largest cybercriminal manhunt in history. The FBI, DEA, IRS and Homeland Security were all after Ulbricht, whose real identity was hidden until the very end. With more than 4,000 vendors, 100,000 buyers, 1.5 million Bitcoin transactions, a billion dollars in sales and millions in commissions to Ulbricht's own account, his Libertarian experiment (everyone should have free choice as long as nobody is harmed) was a tale of intrigue and suspense. Ulbricht was even scammed by one FBI agent who, pretending to be a drug kingpin, gained his confidence via Silk Road's chat line. After a Silk Road "customer service" employee was arrested in Utah, Ulbricht arranged to pay the FBI agent to have the man killed. The agent produced fake photos as proof, and he too was arrested later on.
While hacktivists applaud Ulbricht as a savior of the people, prosecutors demanded the maximum sentence for the creator of the world's largest "one-stop online shopping mall for illegal merchandise." In 2015, "Dread Pirate Roberts" at the age of 31 was convicted of all charges and sentenced to remain in prison for life. His appeal was denied in 2017. In late 2020, the IRS managed to seize more than $1 billion in bitcoins attributed to the Silk Road enterprise. See hacktivist
(SilkRoad Corporation) A San Diego-based company founded in 1996 by Dr. James Palmer and Kevin Doria that developed a laser transmission technology it claimed would dramatically increase optical fiber capacity at lower cost. Said to be the first commercial application of Einstein's theory of relativity, SilkRoad Refractive Synchronization Communication (SRSC) provided bi-directional transmission of multiple data streams using only one laser and one wavelength.
Named after the ancient Persian silk trade routes that brought the riches of the Orient to Europe, SRSC was based on the principle that multiple photons can occupy the same space at the same time. It modulated multiple data streams onto the fiber by tagging each stream as a unique "3D photonic spiral" with no theoretical limit to the number of streams that could be transmitted together. Although prototype systems were impressive, the company was disbanded in 2000.