History of Ethereum started in 2013 when Vitalik Buterin issued a whitepaper of it. Ethereum intended to make the use of blockchain technology achievable not just for payment systems.
Nowadays, Ethereum is one of the most influential blockchains in the world, and most of the decentralized apps and cryptocurrencies run on this blockchain. One of the basic features of this chain is Smart contract development.
Related: What is Ethereum
Programming languages of Ethereum
Another programming language that was developed by the Ethereum team is Vyper. It runs on Ethereum Virtual Machine and intends to simplify the process of Smart Contracts writing and reading at the same time. Vyper is even more secure than Solidity as it’s not object-oriented and gives developers less space to make bugs or mistakes.
Phases of Ethereum development
Ethereum development was projected over four phases. Each of them was expected to introduce more features and fix more difficulties. Each stage also involves “sub releases” (hard forks), that transform functionality in a way that isn’t backward compatible.
Here’s how the timeline for the Ethereum development stages looks:
Block #0 — Frontier
Period of Ethereum’s development from July 30, 2015, to March 2016.
Block #200,000 — Ice Age
Ice Age was a “hard fork” to trigger a transition from PoW to PoS consensus when ready.
Block #1,150,000 — Homestead
The second state of the blockchain launched in 2016.
Block #1,192,000 — DAO
This is one of the most popular Ethereum hard forks. It compensated victims of the DAO hack and divided the system into two parts: Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
Block #2,463,00 — Tangerine Whistle
A hard fork that proposed to change the gas calculation for certain I/O heavy operations and to clear the accumulated state after a DoS attack that exploited the low gas price of those operations.
Block #2,675,000 — Spurious Dragon
This is another hard fork that addressed more DoS attack vectors and a new state clearing.
Block #4,370,000 — Metropolis Byzantium
The third stage of Ethereum development started in October 2017. Byzantium was the first of two hard forks for Metropolis.
Block #7,280,000 — Constantinople
The second hard fork from the Metropolis stage ended in February 2019. This hard fork also included other modifications that fix safety issues codenamed Petersburg.
Block #9,056,000 — Istanbul
The hard fork that is planned to be activated by December 4, 2019, and is going to include more safety fixes and reasons to move away from PoW to PoS algorithm.
Serenity — Ethereum 2.0
The last stage is Serenity. It will introduce Ethereum 2.0, the new blockchain that is going to integrate PoS, a new EVM, and much more. This massive phase is going to be divided into four subparts:
Serenity Road Map:
Phase 0: Beacon Chain (Q1/2020) Phase 1: Shard Chains (2021) Phase 2: eWASM (New EVM) (2021) Phase 3: Continued Improvement (2022)
Ethereum 2.0 Serenity
Ethereum 2.0 is going to make the blockchain faster, scalable and better. Here are the primary goals of this development stage:
- Security: Appropriate crypto and develop techniques that permit the massive assistance of validators in total and per unit time.
- Decentralization: Allow for typical consumer laptops with O(C) resources to process O(1) shards. This will provide more low-end devices to be engaged in the network as validators.
- Simplicity: Decrease complexity, even if it will affect efficiency.
- Resilience: The network should still be live even when lots of nodes go offline.
- Longevity: Make components either quantum preserved or easily swappable for quantum protected counterparts when possible. This will indicate preparing the network for a future where Quantum computing is going to be possible.
And here is how Ethereum is going to bring this to life.
Phase 0: Beacon Chain
The Beacon Chain is going to be a new blockchain split from Ethereum, and it will run parallelly with Ethereum, using PoS algorithm. This new chain will not support smart contracts or accounts, which is bringing simplicity to the system.
The PoW algorithm of Ethereum is known as Ethash, on this new blockchain algorithm is going to be named Casper.
Another adjustment that will take place during this phase is the introduction of ETH2 a new currency for validators on the Beacon chain.
Phase 1: Shard Chains
Sharding is a scalability technique that allows parallel transactions throughout, intended to help transactions scale by dividing the network across multiple shards. Sharding will be introduced on the Beacon chain, and it will have initially 100 shards. Validators will validate transactions from their shards, and in the first phase, they won’t approve any smart contract, account or asset.
While sharding will bring more scalability, there are a few setbacks to take into account. Validators have a small pool of transactions to validate, which makes it easier for a 51% attack, as they only need 51% computing power (or stake) of the shard they are in, instead of the whole network.
This technique can also lead to higher centralization, as each shard can be validated with a small group of validators.
Phase 2: eWASM
The new Ethereum Virtual Machine called eWASM (stands for Ethereum WebAssembly) will provide much better performance and will allow supporting smart contracts, accounts, stats and much more on the new chain. It is planned that eWASM will launch in 2021. Presently, it is still in the first stages of development.
Phase 3: Continued Improvement
Continued Improvement is the code name to embrace all the upcoming changes, fixes and improvements of the earlier stages. There’s no much information about this stage, but the things we know are going to happen for sure are:
- Cross-shard transactions
- Lightweight clients
- Super-square charting
- Closer ties
Ethereum 2.0 development is going to improve today's Ethereum blockchain and modify the crypto environment we have today. So, let's keep an eye on it and see the result.