Litecoin was launched on October 13, 2011 and is a fork of bitcoin designed with speed in mind. A fork from bitcoin means that Litecoin used the bitcoin background programming as its base and then improved parts of it to align it with Litcoin’s vision. A couple of important aspects of Litecoin’s vision were that there would be 84 million Litecoins and that the block time would be 2.5 minutes instead of bitcoin’s 10 minutes.
Litecoin uses the Scrypt algorithm, which is unlike Bitcoin’s SHA-256 algorithm. Scrypt was designed to be ASIC-resistant making Litecoin mining attractive to those with regular computers and graphics cards. That was in the beginning, and the Litecoin mining difficulty has increased drastically since those early days. When Litecoin started trading at USD 40, it became profitable for ASIC manufacturers to create ASIC miners for Litecoin.
Another way of getting Litecoin is to buy it and it’s available at practically every major exchange including: Coinbase (you can buy using USD, Euro, or GBP), Bittrex (you can buy using USD and many altcoins), OkCoin (you can buy using USD, Euro, and Yen), Quadrigacx (you can buy using CAD), Bithump (you can buy using KRW), Btcmarkets.net (where you can buy using AUD), and OKex (you can buy using CNY).
Once you have Litecoin, you need to store it in a wallet; there are several options. There’s a free mobile wallet called LoafWallet. This wallet is maintained by the Litecoin Foundation and is available for iOS or Android – it’s open source so you can browse through the code to ensure it’s secure if you have the skills to read through the code.
Another option is a popular desktop wallet called the Electrum LiteCoin Wallet. This wallet is maintained by a community effort and has features like cold storage, easy recovery in case of loss, high security, and this wallet doesn’t have to download the whole blockchain to start working (a big plus since the blockchain is a large download). The wallet is open source software so if you have the skills, you can read through the code to verify that it’s secure.
Another desktop wallet is the Official Core Wallet. This is a fully functional wallet; however, it does need to download the blockchain to start working. The setup program says it will initially use 10Gb of space and that the space it needs will grow as the blockchain expands.
A more convenient wallet is the LiteVault Secure Web Wallet. The site says it uses browser-based encryption to secure its online wallet and to prevent loss. The service says all of its code is open-source, so you can browse through the code to determine whether it’s secure enough for your needs.
In terms of hardware wallets, the Ledger Nano S, Trezor, and KeepKey hardware wallets all support Litecoin.