This is a quote from the book "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" by Satoshi Nakamoto
... implement a distributed timestamp server on a peer-to-peer basis, we will need to use a proof-of-work system similar to Adam Back's Hashcash, rather than newspaper or Usenet posts. The
proof-of-work involves scanning for a value that when hashed, such as with SHA-256, the hash begins with a number of zero bits. The average work required is exponential in the number of zero bit
s required and can be verified by executing a single hash.
read full book
For our timestamp network, we implement the proof-of-work by incrementing a nonce in the block until a value is found that...