No matter how optimistic some might have been regarding Bitcoin’s growth in 2017, the market’s bull-run, throughout the year, took price to a yearly high that exceeded the most hopeful predictions. During the past year, Bitcoin price increased by more than ten times. More interestingly, Bitcoin’s blockchain was forked more than 20 times during 2017. When a hard fork occurs, a new coin with a new blockchain is formed and all owners of bitcoin receive an amount of the newly created coin, equal to the amount of bitcoin they had in their wallets at the time of occurrence of the forking process. However, the list of new altcoins created in 2017 by hard forking Bitcoin’s blockchain is relatively long, collectively including more than 20 fresh new coins. By far, Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold were the most important hard forks that took place during the past year. Others include Super Bitcoin, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin X, and many more.
What is a Bitcoin hard fork?
A Bitcoin BTC hard fork represents a change in the protocol that leads to the formation of 2 separate chains of transaction blocks, i.e. blockchains, as the new protocol modifications will render blocks, otherwise considered invalid by the original protocol, valid. Accordingly, nodes on the network have to upgrade to the new protocol version to be able to validate blocks as per the new protocol modifications that can include block size, network difficulty levels and volume of data/transaction recorded onto the blockchain.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH):
Bitcoin Cash BCH was launched on August 1st, 2017 by hard forking Bitcoin’s blockchain. BCH was developed to solve Bitcoin’s long scalability debate by creating a new blockchain that supports 8 megabyte sized blocks. Following the fork, Bitcoin Cash was distributed among all owners of Bitcoin at a 1:1 ratio, so if you had 5 BTCs, at the time of the fork, you would have gotten 5 BCH.
The price of Bitcoin Cash reached $450 even a month prior to the coin was created. As such, it was more profitable for miners to mine over Bitcoin Cash’s blockchain than it was over Bitcoin’s. This helped increase the network’s hash rate and boosted the value of the coin. The coin solves 2 of bitcoin’s current major problems; the slow speed of confirmation of transactions, and the high transaction fees. Currently, BCH’s transaction fees average $0.20 and transactions are confirmed within a few minutes.
Today, Bitcoin Cash is worth around $1,750 and its price is expected to increase even more during 2018.
Bitcoin Gold (BTG):
Bitcoin Gold was launched in October 2017 by hard forking Bitcoin’s blockchain again. The main concept underlying Bitcoin Gold is to “decentralize” bitcoin mining again. BTG can be mined via mid-range graphics cards (GPUs), as the coin is ASIC resistant, thanks to the utilization of the Equihash, instead of the SHA256, hashing algorithm. You can mine Bitcoin Gold with your PC’s graphics card (GPU) using MinerGate’s easy to use mining software.
Currently, BTG price exceeds $200 and has the potential to grow even more during the first half of this year.
Bitcoin Diamond (BCD):
Bitcoin Diamond BCD was also created by hard forking Bitcoin’s blockchain in November 2017. The newly created blockchain holds 210 million tokens, so for every bitcoin owned by users, 10 BCD coins were received.
Bitcoin Diamond utilizes the x13 hashing protocol that is ASIC resistant so it can be mined with GPUs, which favors decentralization of the mining process. Interestingly, the team of developers behind BCD is fully anonymous, which was received rather negatively by some members of the cryptocurrency community.
Super Bitcoin (SBTC):
Super Bitcoin SBTC is another Bitcoin hard fork that was launched in December 2017. SBTC’s blockchain holds 21,210,000 coins, of which 21 million coins were distributed among holders of bitcoins at a 1:1 coin ratio. The remaining 210,000 coins are held by the development team for funding future developments and supporting the early developers of the project.
Super Bitcoin’s protocol includes support for the Lightning Network, smart contracts. and zero-knowledge proofs-of-work. Moreover, the protocol permits expansion of the block size up to 8 megabytes. Currently, the price exceeds $100, which reflects appreciation by the community, especially that the coins have been launched only a few weeks ago.
Many other hard forks took place in 2017, yet a considerable percentage of them did not succeed. The list includes Bitcoin World, Oil Bitcoin, Bitcoin X, Bitcoin Stake, Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Silver, UnitedBitcoin, Bitcoin Uranium, Bitcoin Atom, Lightning Bitcoin and Bitcoin God.
Bitcoin Cash Plus (BCP) was hard forked from Bitcoin’s blockchain on January 2nd, 2018. The 1st quarter of the new year is expected to witness many more hard forks including Quantum Bitcoin, Bitcoin Lite, Bitcoin Ore, Bitcoin Private, Bitcoin Interest and Bitcoin Smart.