Bitcoin Hardforks - There are enough to make a list

Hardforking is an interesting concept in the world of blockchains. Bitcoin's blockchain has gone through many hardforking processes lately. Developers carry out hardforks to create interesting new coins with new characteristics. Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Bitcoin Diamond (BCD), Super Bitcoin (SBTC), and Bitcoin Private (BTCP) are the most important hardforks to date.
Bitcoin has been on everyone's lips during the past few months. It has taken over the media landscape during most of the year 2017. The cryptocurrency token has surpassed the predictions of the most optimistic analysts, when it breached the $10,000 mark at the end of 2017. The story did not end there, as to everyone’s amazement, the price of the token soon reached $20,000. Everyone was awestruck, and millionaires were made in a matter of months.

More interestingly, Bitcoin's blockchain was hard forked more than 20 times during 2017. When a hard fork occurs, a new coin with a new blockchain is formed and all owners of bitcoin receive an amount of the newly created coin, propotionate to the amount of bitcoin they had in their wallets at the time of occurrence of  the forking process.

Before proceeding any further, lets explain what a hardfork is.

Bitcoin Wiki provides the following definition of a “hardfork.”

“A hardfork is a change to the bitcoin protocol that makes previously invalid blocks/transactions valid, and therefore requires all users to upgrade.”

The definition describes what a hardfork is and how it affects Bitcoin's blockchain. Now, this does not mean that the original blockchain doesn't exist anymore - it's still there. A hardfork simply creates a new path that diverges from the blockchain. Consider it like a road junction, that divides the road into two.

Hardforks are different from softforks. Where a hardfork requires all the nodes of the network to upgrade and agree with the new protocol version, a softfork is different. It only requires the majority of the miners to agree with the new rules to be successful. A softfork is backward compatible and is usually performed to make minor adjustments to the network.

Bitcoin Wiki provides the following definition to the term “softfork:”

“A softfork is a change to the bitcoin protocol wherein only previously valid blocks/transactions are made invalid. Since old nodes will recognize the new blocks as valid, a softfork is backward-compatible. When a majority of miners upgrade to enforce new rules, it is called a miner-activated softfork (MASF). When full nodes coordinate to enforce new rules, without support from miners, it is called a user-activated softfork (UASF).”

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) – the first hardfork

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) was the first ever hardfork to be carried out on Bitcoin's blockchain. The hardfork was carried out on August 1st, 2017. The Bitcoin Cash hardfork was initiated to solve the "block size" debate. BCH was created after a considerable percentage of community members disagreed with the SegWit implementation.

As such, bitcoin cash was born to solve the scalability issues and increase the throughput of transactions. The original Bitcoin blockchain is limited to a block size of only one megabyte. This led to problems such as rise in transaction fees and delayed processing of transactions. As more and more users started using Bitcoin, the whole system just could not sustain the increased number of transactions.

Bitcoin Cash was forked at block number 478,558. So, starting from block number 478,559, BCH transactions ensued and began to be recorded onto a separate ledger. The newly formed blockchain has a block size of eight MB, which allowed it to perform better and faster.

The newly created bitcoin cash was readily accepted by exchanges and investors. Some complained that the process of forking was rushed, but the doubts eventually died out. Since Bitcoin Cash uses the same Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm as the original Bitcoin blockchain, it was easy for developers to shift to mining bitcoin cash. This aided in the acceptance of the newly forked cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin Gold (BTG) - make bitcoin decentralized again

Members of the community have been complaining that mining bitcoin currently requires investing big amounts of USD in mining hardware. As more and more people started mining bitcoin, the network's difficulty has skyrocketed. As a solution, miners started using Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs), whose prices are rising at near logarithmic rates.

This still works, but since ASICs are expensive to install and maintain, it beats the core purpose of Bitcoin, which is decentralization and convenient accessibility. Wealthy investors have huge warehouses filled with ASICs to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Small investors, simply cannot afford such huge mining facilities.

As a response, few developers teamed up to create the Bitcoin Gold project. The motto of the project was “Make Bitcoin decentralized again.”

The whole project was focused on making the mining process competitive again. To achieve this, developers changed the Proof-of-Work (PoW) algorithm to Equihash. The original Bitcoin blockchain uses the SHA-256 algorithm for PoW. The Equihash algorithm is simply ASIC-resistant and requires more RAM for processing. Therefore, miners can rely on Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) to mine the newly forked tokens.

Bitcoin Gold was forked off from Bitcoin's blockchain on October 24th, 2017, at block height 491,407. Bitcoin owners were eligible for receiving bitcoin gold on the basis of a 1:1 parity, when the forking process took place. The block size of Bitcoin Gold remained the same as that of the original Bitcoin, which is one MB.

At the time of writing, Bitcoin Gold is being traded at $137.57, with a market cap of $2,229,515,180. Around 80% of the tokens have been mined, and the coin was a hit among crypto investors.

Bitcoin Diamond (BCD)

Many members of the Bitcoin community were frustrated by the excessive transaction costs and slow processing times. Neither does the original Bitcoin blockchain provide privacy to its users. It is understandable that the original bitcoin had issues, as it was the first ever cryptocurrency token.

In order to create a better, more private, and faster version of Bitcoin, two teams of developers got together to create a new Bitcoin, which was called Bitcoin Diamond (BCD). Its code was similar to Bitcoin's in many ways, and maybe this is why it was so widely supported by cryptocurrency exchanges, before it was even launched.

At the time of its launch, it was enlisted by up to 33 exchanges all over the world, and the tokens were supported by at least six wallets. Just like Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Diamond’s block size was increased to eight MB from the original one MB. This allowed faster transactions. Moreover, the developers also increased the total supply of the tokens to 210 million. This is ten times more than the total number of tokens of the original Bitcoin.

A major controversy surrounding Bitcoin Diamond was that its developers were fairly anonymous, which led many to denounce it. So strong were the voices against this new coin that even Ledger, the renowned crypto wallet, called it a scam and tweeted that investors should immediately sell it. More controversial was its claim of 1:10 parity, which meant that if you owned one bitcoin back then, you would have been eligible to receive ten bitcoin diamonds. However, the token was eventually accepted by the community and readily traded.

Evey and 007 were the two teams behind the development of Bitcoin Diamond.

Bitcoin Diamond forked from the original Bitcoin blockchain at block height 495,866 on November 24th, 2017.

The coin has enjoyed moderate success since its launch. Bitcoin diamond is currently being traded at $20.67.

Super Bitcoin  (SBTC) – making Bitcoin great again

The reason Super Bitcoin deserves a mention in this article is because it is using the Lightning Network for its transactions. The Lightning Network is one of the latest innovations in the blockchain technology arena, and it provides lightning fast, instant transactions at minimal transaction fees. The concept of the Lightning Network is similar to that of smart contracts, as it allows safe, transparent, and fast transactions between any number of users.

Super Bitcoin was forked off from the main Bitcoin blockchain at block height 498,888 on December 12th, 2017. The total supply of the new token is 21,210,000. 210,000 of these tokens were pre-mined and are being used to encourage and support early developers.

Super Bitcoin also increased the block size from one MB to eight MB, in order to increase the transaction capacity of the blockchain.

Super Bitcoin’s slogan is “Make Bitcoin great again,” as the coin's developers hope to popularize the use of cryptocurrency, so that the tokens can be used for everyday activities. The Lightning Network allows Super Bitcoin to do so. The team behind the token is Chinese, and the founding member is Li Xiao Lai.

Super Bitcoin (SBTC) is currently being traded at $23.92.

Bitcoin Private (BTCP) – making Bitcoin anonymous

This one deserves special mention in our list of hardforks as it stands out from the rest. The Bitcoin Private (BTCP) hardfork is planned for February 28th. The development team is currently rigorously testing their codes and the compatibility of the new token with all the renowned wallets. What’s interesting is that although the hardfork will be done off from the original Bitcoin blockchain, holders of zclassic (ZCL) will also receive BTCP coins when the hardfork takes place.

Contrary to the popular belief, Bitcoin is not that private, and anonymity is not guaranteed since all data is stored on a public ledger. Hence, anyone with access to the ledger can get data that might compromise the privacy of the users.

Bitcoin Private wants to change this by using zkSNARKS, or Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge, which limit the interaction between the prover and verifier. This will make the users totally anonymous and they will not be traceable, even with the decentralized ledger.

The block size of the new token will be a bit larger, yet it is unclear by how much. Controversies always surround hardforks and Bitcoin Private hasn’t managed to escape them either. The capabilities of the team members are always scrutinized when it comes to hard forks. Critics doubt that the hardfork might fail to grasp the attention of the investors.

The fact that the team has yet to release a white paper, while we are only a week away from the hardfork, doesn’t help.

Flop Coins

So, these were the hardforks that enjoyed considerable success, but these weren’t the only hardforks that took place in the last few months.  More than 20 hardforks have been carried out since Bitcoin Cash was launched, and many were labelled scams and failed miserably.

Bitcoin Platinum (BTP) is worth a chuckle. The hardfork gained considerable hype in the community and many believed that it was original. Later on, through its official Twitter page, its creator revealed through a tweet that he was a South Korean teenager, who made Bitcoin Platinum up in an attempt to make a quick buck.

“I’m really sorry, please forgive me… In fact, it is a scam coin… I wanted to make 5 million KRW… Please don’t kill me…”

Then, there was BitcoinX, a hardfork that was planned to make Bitcoin similar to Ethereum. Bitcoin World, Bitcoin God, Oil Bitcoin, Bitcoin Stake, Bitcoin Clasic, Bitcoin Silver, United Bitcoin, and Bitcoin Uranium. These are just the ones off the top of my head. Not all of these are fake, nor are they all legitimate, I can go on writing about all of these one by one and I would never finish.

Due to the fact that more and more hardforks are coming, it is said that 2018 is the year of hardforks. More than 20 hardforks have already been announced, even though we are still in the second month of the year.

The following are some suggestions that you can keep in mind before deciding to invest in any of the hardforks.

  1. Check the team, their GitHub page, and whether or not they have legitimate code to make sure that it is not all just smoke and mirrors.
  2. Check if they have a whitepaper. It should include all the information about the hardfork and the plan of the team.
  3. Use common sense. Opposite to the popular belief, common sense isn’t that common. If you analyze the hard fork logically, study their team, and make decisions based on facts instead of being just urged by a desire to get rich quickly, you’ll be fine.
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