What is Ethereum Classic?
If you’ve been digging into the literature on Ethereum, then you’ve no doubt come across something called Ethereum Classic. Rather than being the original Ethereum, as the name implies, Ethereum Classic is an off-shoot from the original Ethereum. In short, Ethereum Classic is an alternative cryptocurrency more or less separate from Ethereum. It is comparable to the difference between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. To understand how Ethereum Cash came about, we first need to look at what a soft fork is.
Decentralization vs. scalability
One of the main issues facing the blockchain and cryptocurrency community is also one of its key selling points: decentralization. A decentralized network is not under any one person or institution’s control. Furthermore, the method of network consensus also makes it very difficult to corrupt or manipulate financial transactions. The major downside of such a network, however, is that it’s not always easy getting everyone on the same page. Scalability is another of the big problems to be solved in cryptocurrency. In fact, decentralization and scalability seem to be at odds. Developers have worked on various solutions to this problem. Two of these solutions are soft and hard forks.
What are soft and hard forks?
Forks in a blockchain happen when it needs to be updated. To use an analogy, soft forks are like software updates, while hard forks are like hardware updates. When you update Microsoft Word, for example, you can still open documents created in previous versions. You might not have as much luck opening documents created with a newer version if you run an older one. That’s how a soft fork in a blockchain works. Hard forks, on the other hand, is more comparable to changing from Windows to Mac OS. The team behind Ethereum wanted to create a soft fork in order to not leave anyone on the network behind.
Enter Ethereum Classic
Ethereum Classic (abbreviated ETC) is, as mentioned, a new cryptocurrency. Although there is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the new token, there are also some problems ahead. The original team behind Ethereum, you see, created a hard fork after the creation of Ethereum Classic. That means anyone working on the Ethereum Classic network will not be able to use any of the updates on the Ethereum blockchain. This disparity has already resulted in a big problem for the Ethereum Classic team. Ethereum has moved on from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake as a method of verifying changes to smart contracts. Ethereum Classic, however, will not be able to move onto this new verification method.
The main problem with the ETC is the lack of backward compatibility with the Ethereum Hard Fork. All the heavyweights of the Ethereum community have moved on to the new chain, which means that anyone who is part of the ETC won’t be able to access any of the updates done by the ETH. The perfect example is ETH’s move from Proof Of Work (PoW) To Proof of Stake (PoS). ETC won’t be able to implement that because their software just doesn’t allow the use of updates.