When people first get into cryptocurrency, they usually find out about Bitcoin first. They hear about this magical-sounding currency that has the power to topple banking cartels and democratize cash in a way they probably didn’t think it needed until they start to dig deeper into the topic.
As they delve further down the rabbit hole, it’s only a matter of time before they end up on some website like Coinmarketcap. There, they’ll be confronted by a staggering array of currencies. They’ll see the likes of Ethereum, Tron, and Ripple and might want to do some research. Then they’ll come across the forks of Bitcoin – Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Private. That will take them down yet another path of discovery.
Whilst those with the B word in the name are obviously related to Bitcoin, there are some forks of the world’s most dominant cryptocurrency that are less apparent. Many think they were developed entirely from the ground up. They’d be wrong, however. In this article, we’ll look at three of the most popular discrete forks of Bitcoin.
Litecoin was launched in 2011 by developer Charlie Lee. Lee used to work at Google before becoming fascinated with Bitcoin. He saw a couple of issues with the original blockchain, however, being the speed of transactions and the fact that highly advanced computers had a huge advantage when it came to mining coins.
This led him to develop Litecoin. Litecoin is identical to Bitcoin except for a few features. Firstly, it processes a block every 2.5 minutes instead of ten, so transactions happen faster on Litecoin. Another change Lee made to Bitcoin was to use Scrypt in its Proof-of-Work algorithm. This made it resistant to the kinds of supercomputers used to mine Bitcoin. However, today Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips have been developed for Litecoin too.
Dash is a portmanteau of digital cash. It is a fork of the original Bitcoin blockchain with a couple of differences. Firstly, Dash has an instant send option and a private one too. These were developed to solve the perceived issues with Bitcoin of anonymity as well as the speed of transactions.
Dash was originally launched in 2014 by developer Evan Duffield. One property of this cryptocurrency that often gets criticized is that Dash has a reward system built into its protocol. This essentially pays those working on the Dash currency but, for a decentralized currency, this is hardly desirable. It gives power over the entire currency to a select group of people wealthy enough to own the number of Dash needed to be a master node. This group collectively have control over the network.
Finally, there is Zcash. Zcash was launched in 2016 and its major selling point is its privacy features. It was developed by a group of researchers from John Hopkins University and a group of cryptographers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as other educational institutions. Many of the features of Zcash are the same as Bitcoin. For example, both networks have 21 million coins. However, Zcash introduces a privacy feature known as zero-knowledge proofs. This guarantees that transactions follow the rules of the network but doesn’t expose information about the sender or receiver.