Bitcoin ignited the cryptomarket in January 2009. Two years later, the first Altcoin (ALT) was introduced as NameCoin. The term ALT refers to any cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin. A handful more were launched soon after. It was during 2013 when the ALT Boom was realized, Several altcoins were launched each week. The market is now filled with some seriously innovative options outside of Bitcoin. Let’s dive into the NameCoin and Ethereum Altcoin releases.
Touching on a brief history of NameCoin, we can see how Altcoins have evolved in the past 7 years. NameCoin paved the way for decentralised domain registration. It allowed one to register a domain name for a small fee, a fraction of its regular price. They eradicated renewal fees, and gave you access to any subdomains that may branch from your chosen domain name. It also introduced the concept of merge-mining. Other noteworthy first generation altcoins are Litecoin, PeerCoin and DogeCoin. It is estimated that there are now more than 4000 Altcoins in circulation.
One of the biggest altcoin success stories is Ethereum. Launched in 2013, Ethereum introduced smart contracts to the cryptoworld. Smart contracts are irreversible, trackable transactions that can facilitate the exchange of anything of value. Similar to an app store, Ethereum is a computing platform that allows developers to create any application (referred to as decentralized applications or dApps), on one decentralised platform. On the Ethereum blockchain, Ether (ETH) is the coin, used as a cryptocurrency as well as contract fuel. Ethereum has the second biggest market cap at the time of writing.
Ethereum’s platform also provides the opportunity to create tokens and launch ICOs. Currently, 45 of the top 100 coins (by market cap) are made on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Though still relatively young, this has skyrocketed Ethereum’s growth in the past 5 years.
Altcoin genealogy refers to its evolution from its cryptocoin predecessor. For example, many altcoins use the basic coding structure of Bitcoin and add several changes. Referred to as a fork, these changes can be anything from differences in scripting language, blocks sizes, whether it can be mined, or if it has additional security features. Each altcoin has a story to tell, and a new technological advance they want you to buy into.
Market cap is probably the most relevant metric to use when comparing altcoins. This is measured by the price of the coin, and the total number of said coins in circulation. Currently Bitcoin occupies most of the crypto market, with Ethereum and Ripple in moderate pursuit.
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