- Bitcoin gave birth to almost 440 altcoins
- They were created by a process known as hard forking
- 90 percent of them is now defunct, while the combined altcoin segment has a smaller market cap than the original cryptocurrency
Bitcoin is an inanimate object of the sorts, but despite that, it can be called a very productive progenitor giving life to almost 440 altcoin offsprings since its inception. These altcoins make roughly six percent of the total number of cryptocurrencies.
But how did it come to this? In “real life,” procreation is usually governed by amicable reasons. In BTC, it is often caused by conflicts and disagreements about the future of the cryptocurrency.
The faith of bitcoin was and is governed by the programing code of its network protocol. Whenever the addition or removal of some features becomes the subject of the development work, it garners both support and opposition.
Such a situation leads to devs being split to those maintaining the old and new versions of the code. This split is called a “fork” because just as a fork in the road splits one road in two, this programing fork splits the development of network code in two different directions.
Forks can be either soft or hard. Soft forks happen when some change implemented in the network protocol code allows that nodes running the older version still function as part of the network. A hard fork occurs when the change doesn’t allow this, and all nodes with a newer version of protocol become an independent network.
Since bitcoin was introduced in 2009, there were more than 430 hard forks of its network protocol’s code. In other words, it has given birth to almost 440 offsprings.
Who are bitcoin kids?
The first altcoin to spring from the very first cryptocurrency was the Namecoin. Back in 2011, this fork introduced the ability to insert data directly in the blockchain, together with the proof-of-work algorithm.
Soon came Tenebrix, a CPU-friendly fork, and Fairbix its spinoff. These two, now mostly forgotten altcoins, gave birth to the Litecoin, a cryptocurrency which is second only to the king.
LTC introduced much faster block generation, increased supply, and different encryption algorithms. After the Litecoin development of new forks was heating up, and numerous have spawned since then. Some notable ones were Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Classic, launched on the same day in 2017.
What is the fate of this progeny?
For at least 90 percent, it was a sad destiny of obscurity and becoming defunct. With “the one to rule them all” and almost seven thousand more pretenders, they all face stiff competition.
Today there are thousands of cryptocurrencies being mined and traded on the exchanges. Of that number, just a little more than 40 are the forks of bitcoin.
The one that dominates the cryptocurrency market is still the bitcoin, capturing $117 billion of the roughly $330 billion worth market.