As Ethereum is going to a lot of changes and is facing its own transition to Ethereum 2.0, there has already been a split in the past. While the changes and developments in Ethereum 2.0 are voluntary and supported by the vast majority of the community, Ethereum Classic was born during troublesome times in the year 2016.
What is Ethereum Classic and why is there a classic version in the first place? Today we are going to take a closer look at Ethereum’s little sister.
The DAO Hack
In the year 2016 Ethereum was still a very young and ambitious project. The developers came up with an idea that was called “The DAO”. While “The DAO“ was a typical decentralized autonomous organisation as you know it from other examples that exists today, the idea and the concept of a DAO itself was pretty new at that time.
Lauded as a revolutionary project The DAO collect 150 million US-Dollars during a token sale. In order to participate in The DAO users had to hold a share of tokens. The purpose of The DAO was to finance other DApps much like a decentralized venture capital fund. And the token holders would allow or deny funding for other projects based on their shares of token that they bought.
Only three months after The DAO was released, its smart contract of hacked due to a vulnerability. The community was in shock and the developers tried to mitigate the hack with a soft fork. But the hacker had different plans and since he stole about 60 million US-Dollar worth of cryptocurrency, he made it public that he would pay users a share of to reject the soft fork.
The developers only saw one solution to beat the attacker and reverse his hack. The Ethereum blockchain underwent a hard fork. The result was a reset and the network and all balances were effectively set back. All victims were reimbursed, but the community was torn because of the implications of this very fateful decision.
Ethereum Classic continued the old chain
One part of the community sticked to idea that all transactions are final and that a hack or loss of funds shouldn’t be a reason to turn back the hands of time. In fact, Ethereum Classic was born more over an ethical debate whether developers having the right to hard fork a network just like that. The Ethereum Classic community simply decided not to go along with the hard fork and instead kept validating the old blockchain.
Hence the name Ethereum Classic and the ticker ETC. Needles to say the infrastructure of Ethereum Classic is very similar to that of Ethereum. Ethereum Classics programming language is turing complete and smart contracts as well as DApps are possible with ETC. But the fact that it saw its own development over the last 5 years means that Ethereum Classic will not evolve as much as Ethereum will do in the next few years.
Ethereum Classic won’t have the upgrade
The idea behind Ethereum 2.0 is to face the fact that layer one solutions are not scaling very well. Especially if they are built upon a proof of work consensus model. Ethereum is secure and decentralized, but that comes at the expense of speed that the network so desperately needs in order to scale.
Ethereum 2.0 will introduce sharding and many side chains that will execute certain protocols and smart contracts, so that the main chain won’t have to deal with all the load at once. Ethereum Classic is not ready for this step and it will stick to very foundation of what Ethereum has been at its very beginning. Aside from the fact that the majority of users decided to opt for Ethereum and not for Ethereum Classic, it is hard to keep up for ETC without having an answer to the most pressing questions.
But there is also light at the end of the tunnel. Should Ethereum 2.0 fail or generally speaking layer-2 solutions and sidechains should face too much unforeseen trouble in the future, Ethereum Classic might have a chance because it never changed its course. The fact that ETC simply decided to stay true to certain aspects of blockchain technology, doesn’t mean that there is no development. Many proponents of ETC think that the fact that Ethereum Classic is slower and more expensive points to the fact that it is meant only for the most important agreements that could be possibly settled on the blockchain. Meaning that most use cases that require fast and cheap transactions are not suitable for blockchain technology anyways.