Counted among the prominent cryptocurrencies in the world, Ethereum has made a special place for itself in the crypto world. Despite being relatively new (it was incepted only in 2015), the ascendance of the Ethereum is remarkable, and especially its feature of smart contracts has revolutionized how the things now work in the crypto domain. Through smart contracts that consist of a range of decentralized applications, Ethereum is finding prominence in a range of sectors of the economy.
Ethereum blockchain has several features, and thanks to its self-executing codes and autonomous features, the blockchain has become the basis of operation for several cryptocurrencies in the market. The primary reason behind the popularity of the Ethereum blockchain is its ability to offer a range of tools to developers that will help the community to build various kinds of decentralized applications.
Despite all these merits, Ethereum has to come up with the number of upgrades to address various challenges, including the scalability and rapidly changing users’ needs. Initially, many cryptocurrencies worked on the concept of proof-of-work mining; however, with time, the need to have structural changes was felt across the board, thereby prompting Ethereum to make necessary adjustments to suit customer and market needs.
The most recent upgrade brought in by Ethereum was on February 25, 2019, when it activated “Constantinople and Petersburg hard fork.” By doing that, it is on the verge of launching Ethereum 2.0 (also known as Serenity). We take a brief look at the history of the upgrades activated by the Ethereum till now to briefly understand what all stages Ethereum has gone through in its life cycle of a little more than four years.
1) Inception Stage in July 2015:
Ethereum blockchain was launched in July 2015, after going through a series of open testnet exercises. All developers who contributed to the stress-testing of the network got a reward of 25,000 ETH from Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum.
During the stress-testing, the network was evaluated for its capability to handle traffic intensity, scalability, mining issues, and transaction activities, among others. The process concluded on July 20, 2015, when the mining of “Ethereum Genesis Block” was completed. Some of the significant features of the initial Ethereum blockchain include, Block Reward (a prize person get on completion of mining a block), GAS (the price value one has to reach to continue to use Ethereum blockchain), and Canary Contracts (a tool related to preventive mechanism to help Ethereum blockchain operate smoothly).
2) Homestead Upgrade:
This upgrade was executed on May 14, 2016, and it resulted in doing away with canary contracts. Also, a new programming language, codes, and MIST wallet have been added to the blockchain. However, what makes this upgrade more significant is the implementation of Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs): EIP 2.1, EIP 2.2, and EIP 2.4.
Another significant event in the timeline of Ethereum relates to the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). A project was undertaken to develop an ecosystem around the blockchain. The project raised $150 million in the token sale and provided a platform to distribute funds for several blockchain projects related to Ethereum.
However, in one of the major setbacks to the company’s reputation, a 3.6 million ETH heist was uncovered on July 20, 2016. In response, the Ethereum community came up with a hard fork (unplanned) to restore the money though this decision was not a unanimous one with some community users continue to use the old fork. The controversy erupted again when the original stolen blockchain came back with the name Ethereum Classic with many blaming founder of creating a hard fork to save his colleagues and friends from financial impropriety.
That is an important stage in the history of upgrades Ethereum underwent, and to get there, the network passed through two stages: Byzantium and Constantinople. Byzantium was executed in October 2017, at a block height of 4,370,000 and consisted of a total of nine EIPs. The second stage Constantinople, on the other hand, went live at the height of 7,280,000 on February 28, 2019. As of now, Ethereum is in the Constantinople phase, with its first stage, Petersburg had already been implemented in the first quarter of 2019. Istanbul, the second stage, is going to be activated somewhere around the middle of this month. The upcoming Istanbul upgrade will help address some of the crucial challenges related to the Ethereum blockchain, such as scalability, mining process, data storage, and execution of protocols. This upgrade will make the network more user-friendly, providing developers’ reliable tools to build distributed applications by users’ needs.
As we look into the future, Serenity is what the Ethereum blockchain wants to reach. Some of the other important upgrades in the Serenity include shading, Beacon Chain, and transition from the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) to Ethereum-flavored Web Assembly (eWASM).
To sum up, Ethereum continues to play an important role in the crypto world, and as it looks forward to having another important upgrade; it has set its eyes to become the number one cryptocurrency and blockchain technology network in the industry. Now whether that will happen or not, only time will tell.