Bitcoin Core is the name of the software that allows users to connect and interface with the Bitcoin network. It was created and released by Bitcoin’s pseudonymous founder Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009.
It is a free and open source project that relies on contributors from across the world, many of whom are sponsored by outside grants provided by those wishing to support Bitcoin development.
Users can download and run Bitcoin Core by itself or use a packaged-node software which generally includes Bitcoin Core within it.
Do I need to run Bitcoin Core?
Absolutely not. Although, if you are using Bitcoin you will be interacting with Bitcoin Core in some capacity. Generally this takes place behind the scenes and is taken care of by whichever wallet software you are using to send and receive Bitcoin.
What are the benefits of running Bitcoin core?
Running Bitcoin Core (or a node software that includes Bitcoin Core) allows users to become an independent node on the Bitcoin network. This means that they can independently audit and verify all transactions that have appeared on the blockchain, removing most elements of trust from the equation.
In addition to this, running your own version of Bitcoin Core provides added security and privacy benefits when using Bitcoin since you will not have to broadcast your information to a third parties node.
Finally, running a node means that you are contributing to the decentralization and strength of the Bitcoin network.