Evolution of the Ethereum Blockchain: A Journey Since July 2015
Since its initial launch in July 2015, the Ethereum blockchain network has undergone several significant upgrades and transformations. These developments have enhanced the platform’s capabilities, scalability, and security, making it one of the most prominent and influential blockchain networks in the world. In this article, we will explore the major upgrades that have shaped the evolution of the Ethereum blockchain.
Some of the most significant:
Frontier (2015): This was the initial release of the Ethereum network, allowing users to create and deploy their own smart contracts and decentralized applications.
Homestead (2016): This introduced several improvements, including security enhancements, gas optimizations and network stability improvements.
Metropolis (2017–2019): This was a two-part upgrade consisting of Byzantium and Constantinople. Byzantium introduced key improvements, such as a new mining algorithm, enhanced privacy features and a reduction in block rewards. Constantinople included updates to reduce transaction fees, increase efficiency and introduce new features like off-chain transactions.
Istanbul (2019): This introduced several new features, including the integration of zk-SNARKs (a form of zero-knowledge cryptography), a new mining algorithm and various protocol upgrades to improve efficiency and network security.
Beacon Chain (2020): To ensure secure functioning, the Beacon Chain required 16,384 deposits of 32 staked ETH, which was successfully made in November 2020. As a result, the Beacon Chain started generating blocks on December 1, 2020, marking a crucial milestone toward realizing the Ethereum vision.
Berlin (2021): This was a protocol upgrade that introduced several new features, including gas fee optimizations, enhanced security measures and a reduction in transaction costs for certain types of transactions.
London (2021): This introduced EIP-1559, which changed the way transaction fees are calculated on the Ethereum network. This upgrade included a fee burn mechanism, which helps to reduce the overall supply of ETH and introduces a more predictable fee model for users.
The Merge ( 2022): On September 15, 2022, Ethereum underwent a Merge Upgrade, which transformed Ethereum from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. The merge is Ethereum’s largest upgrade yet, reducing the energy consumption needed to secure Ethereum by 99.95%, creating a more secure network at a smaller carbon cost. Ethereum is now a low-carbon blockchain while improving its security and scalability.
Shanghai upgrade(2023)：also known as the Shapella upgrade, is a hard fork that took place on April 12, 2023. The Shanghai upgrade allows validators to withdraw the staked ether (ETH) that has been locked in the network.
While the primary objective of the upgrade is to implement Ethereum Improvement Proposal-4895, which unlocks validator withdrawals, the changes include other significant upgrades that will impact Ethereum app developers and many of the chain’s users.
Cancun-Deneb( Expected in the second half of 2023): Cancun upgrade for short, is another important upgrade after the upgrade of Ethereum Shanghai. Deneb is the upgrade name for the Ethereum Consensus Layer (CL), while Cancun refers to the update for the Ethereum Execution Layer (EL). No specific date has been given for the Cancun upgrade, but it is expected to go live in the second half of 2023.
These upgrades have brought numerous improvements to the Ethereum network across security, efficiency and scalability and have enhanced the functionality of the network. The Ethereum blockchain’s upcoming Cancun upgrade will improve the network’s scalability and security.