Forks that marked 2017 and possible future forks
Last year was undoubtedly a wild year in the crypto market characterized by among other things, the bitcoin forks. Specifically, four forks were witnessed last year, three of which succeeded with the exception of one. The forks included the bitcoin cash fork, segwit, bitcoin gold cash and segwit 2x. notably, these forks attracted supporters and opposers for the reason that different people perceived the impact of the forks differently. The question that begs an answer, therefore, is what exactly are forks and should more forks be anticipated for the future?
Technically, bitcoin fork is a phenomenon that is aimed at improving the functionality, scalability, and versatility of the bitcoin blockchain. It is important to note that the forks that happened in 2017 resulted in the creation of new bitcoin blockchains namely bitcoin cash and bitcoin gold. The fact that the forks result in the creation of new bitcoin blockchains is one of the main reasons why a large number of participants in the bitcoin community remain opposed to it.
There two main categories of forks namely hard fork and soft fork. Essentially, hard forks result in the split of a blockchain thus disregarding and invalidating the transactions confirmed by nodes that have not been upgraded to the new software version. A soft fork on the other only results in changes to the transaction protocol on a blockchain without splitting up the original blockchain.
The bitcoin cash hard fork happened on 1st August 2017 with the focus on addressing bitcoin scalability challenges. This hard fork resulted in the modification of bitcoins block size limit from 1MB to 8mb in a bid to increase the number of transactions that the bitcoin blockchain could accommodate. Additionally, this hard fork resulted in the creation of bitcoin cash cryptocurrency which ranks 4th on coinmarketcap with a market cap of over $40 billion. The last block common for bitcoin cash and bitcoin was block 478558. As soon as bitcoin cash separated fully from the bitcoin blockchain, bitcoin cash wallets started to reject BTC blocks and BTC transactions.
The bitcoin cash hard fork was the very first in 2017 and was closely followed by another fork coined segwit in the same month.
Segwit or segregated witness is a term used to describe a soft fork change in the transaction protocol of bitcoin. Segwit has also been implemented on cryptocurrencies like Digibyte, litecoin, and vertcoin among others. Simply put, segwit is the process through which the block size on a blockchain is adjusted by separating the signature data from the transactions on the blockchain. Notably, the segwit concept was developed by Dr. Pieter Wuille and the first success segwit soft fork happened on 23rd August 2017.
The bitcoin gold hard fork was a hard fork of the open source bitcoin and it happened on 1st of November 2017 on block 491407. The aim of the hard fork was to create an ASIC resistant bitcoin and this was to be achieved by reusing Equihash proof of work algorithm which is mostly synonymous with Zcash. Notably, this hard fork resulted in the creation of a new cryptocurrency, bitcoin gold, which ranks at number 17 on coinmarketcap with a market capitalization of over $3 billion.
The segiwt2x hard fork was scheduled to happen on 15th on November 2017 but it failed to lunch due to lack of consensus among the bitcoin community. essentially, the fork would have increased the block size to 2mb. Notably, the segwit that was launched on August 23rd was the first half of what was termed as ‘New York Agreement’. The agreement was a compromise between those who were pro segwit and those opposed to it. However, some of the companies which initially supported the segwit backed out resulting in the cancellation of the segwit2x.
While the segwit2x was not successful, it is important to note that the forks should not be considered a lost cause just yet. Different people have impressed their intentions to launch new currencies. These include Bitcoin diamond, Bitcoin uranium, Bitcoin silver, Bitcoin platinum, Super bitcoin and bitcoin cash plus. It is likely that most of these forks will fail but some might succeed nonetheless.