The origins of Bitcoin: Independence Day and the final fight for Satoshi Vision

This series looks back on the history of Bitcoin. Read parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine.

Once BTC forked away from the original protocol of the Bitcoin blockchain, Satoshi’s vision once again set out to fulfil its destiny as a peer-to-peer (P2P) electronic cash system and the only public blockchain the world would need and at the time was known as Bitcoin Cash with the ticker symbol BCH. 

Unfortunately though, some groups within the BCH ecosystem had ulterior motives and were not willing to follow the original vision of Bitcoin, resulting in the first Bitcoin Hash war, which would ultimately lead to the third re-birth of Bitcoin and what we now call Bitcoin Independence Day. The original Bitcoin protocol took on a new ticker symbol BSV on Independence Day which stood for Bitcoin Satoshi Vision or Bitcoin SV for short.

Background

The story begins in May 2018, when a Bitcoin ABC developer proposed altering the Bitcoin protocol, being used at the time by Bitcoin Cash (BCH), to add the new OP code OP_DATASIGVERIFY (OP_DSV). This was based on an earlier proposal by Andrew Stone to add scripting ability to Bitcoin, which could then validate based on an oracle off the chain.

This immediately brought into view a stark contrast between the different players in the Bitcoin industry. There were those who believed in the original vision of Bitcoin and wanted to see it restored, with Dr. Craig Wright (Satoshi himself) and CoinGeek founder Calvin Ayre falling in this camp. On the other side, there were those who wanted to push a more anonymous, criminal friendly coin, which OP_DSV would help facilitate. Roger Ver (former CEO of Bitcoin.com) and Bitmain founder Jihan Wu led this faction.

As the idea progressed over time, defenders of Satoshi’s original vision argued against protocol changes like DSV, not only because it diverged from the original Bitcoin whitepaper, but also because it clearly made Bitcoin less friendly to the law. At the time, Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen laid out the many ways OP_DSV could be leveraged for illegal use, or to circumvent regulatory bodies like gambling commissions, opening up Bitcoin to legal threats. He noted as well that Roger Ver was promoting these potential use cases, making the intended use clear.

To guarantee that his creation would not be once again corrupted by criminal use, Dr. Wright organized a mining pool with the help of his nChain team and launched a full node implementation of Bitcoin SV (BSV), which would refuse to follow any protocol changes proposed by Bitcoin ABC for the BCH fork. Instead, it would stick to the original Satoshi vision and return Bitcoin to its original protocol. 

Battle lines had been clearly drawn, as BCH was set to upgrade on November 15, 2018, with Ver’s group intent on following through with protocol changes, and Dr. Wright’s group dedicated to following the original Bitcoin whitepaper. With both sides intent on winning the first Hash War, where miners would vote with their hash on which side should be victorious.

Hash War begins

While the Satoshi Vision side appeared to have the most hash power going in to the fight, Bitcoin ABC, with the help of Jihan Wu, turned to rented hash power to artificially lengthen their blockchain’s proof of work. The war became one of attrition, as the world looked on to see if the ABC side would bankrupt itself from renting hash, or if the Hash War would destroy both sides.

Controversially, ABC declared victory early, promoting themselves to cryptocurrency exchanges as the winner of the Hash War, and adding a checkpoint to their blockchain with a threat to reverse transactions if BSV would ever overtake their chain. As Nguyen pointed out at the time, all of ABC’s actions were contrary to the Nakamoto Consensus in the Bitcoin whitepaper, as it overturned the will of active miners with mercenary hash power. ABC’s declared victory was completely hollow.

Finally, after over a week of the Hash War, the decision was made to stop fighting, to allow ABC to fork off from the original Bitcoin blockchain and to keep the BCH ticker symbol. BSV would then be able to follow the original Bitcoin vision, and the ABC team could continue to play with their new protocol and risk what may come with it.

Aftermath

In the aftermath of the Hash War, BSV has been laser focused on two things: returning its protocol to the original vision of Satoshi and locking it in, showing the enterprise world that it has a stable platform to build on; and scaling massively, to create a blockchain capable of handling the world’s needs.

In both those respects, it’s been very successful. Dr. Wright and Steve Shadders, nChain CTO, along with their team have made small but important fixes to the protocol with the intent to return it to what was originally described by the Bitcoin whitepaper, while allowing it to scale massively. With the Quasar protocol upgrade, BSV can now achieve 2GB blocks, while still giving miners their voice by allowing them to limit the size of blocks they will accept. An increased OP_RETURN size limit has also created a world of possibilities in the Metanet, creating new business use cases that the world is still discovering.

What has become of BCH? While still seeing some usage, its development has become a disaster, ruined by the Hash War. They’ve been tied up in lawsuits as a result of their actions, lost developers due to their constantly changing protocol, turned to begging for development funds, and internal infighting could mean the entire project goes up in flames in the future.

Although the paths of BSV and ABC’s BCH now seem to be pretty clear, the story of Bitcoin is far from over. With BSV set to have its Genesis protocol update in February 2020, it will soon be returned as close as possible to the original Bitcoin protocol and allowed to scale to an unlimited degree. With more businesses coming on board and new use cases proving its utility every day, there’s a bright future for Bitcoin SV.

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