A brief history of Litecoin’s developments and forks

Often touted as silver to Bitcoin’s gold, Litecoin (LTC) is a perennial top 10 cryptocurrency by market cap, with a solid following and a clear use case. Nevertheless, the silver to gold comparison has a limited ability to describe Litecoin’s prowess. As a decentralized and distributed network used for transactions that are cryptographically protected, it is sometimes better to describe it as an attempt at Facebook to Bitcoin’s Myspace. Here is a brief history of Litecoin’s developments and forks, starting as a market follower but since turning into a driver of innovation in the space.

What is Litecoin?

To understand where the silver to Bitcoin’s gold comes from, it is important to focus on the origin of Litecoin. Charlie Lee, who was a Google employee and former Engineering Director at Coinbase, created LTC with a few goals in mind. Lee’s design offers the following features as compared to Bitcoin:

  • Faster block propagation – one block every 2.5 minutes instead of a 10-minute target on Bitcoin
  • Improved GUI
  • More total money supply – 84 million coins to Bitcoin’s 21 million
  • Scrypt algorithm instead of SHA 256 – which makes it more expensive to produce ASIC miners to mine on Litecoin than on Bitcoin

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Litecoin’s initial release came almost 2 years after the release of Bitcoin, on 7 October 2011. Its first block was mined on 13 October of the same year. Judging by these features and the release date, it is easy to get caught up in the silver vs gold comparisons. There is a lot more to the Litecoin vs Bitcoin dynamic, however.

Litecoin: Silver to Bitcoin’s Gold?

Just as there is more silver than gold on Earth, Litecoin is indeed more abundant than Bitcoin. But that is only part of the picture. Anyone who understands precious metals knows that abundance is only one variable. Looking at gold and silver, it is important to notice that overall availability is just one variable. Silver is in fact rarer on the earth’s surface than gold – although below the ground the opposite is true. Silver also has more industrial uses than gold. These factors make the silver vs gold prism an improper framework to understand Litecoin’s significance in the market, especially when comparing it to Bitcoin. 

When it comes to Litecoin and Bitcoin, the latter has a greater degree of adoption. This means it is more widely used in the industry than LTC, which is not the case of silver. Price ratios can also be misleading. Bitcoin to Litecoin price ratios are nothing like silver to gold price ratios. Therefore, the framework for analysis must include the development of Litecoin in terms of technology.

Litecoin’s Developments

Looking at the technology, Litecoin looks more and more like an attempt at being Facebook to Bitcoin’s Myspace, although it is clearly not there and might never get there. Nonetheless, LTC is quickly becoming a pioneer where it was once a follower.

Litecoin’s first version was its 0.1.0, released on 7 October 2011. Its latest version took it to 0.17.1 on 26 May 2019. Litecoin’s 0.1.0 version was in fact a fork of the Bitcoin core client. Since then, its development has been closely related to that of Bitcoin for various reasons. In fact, Litecoin has adopted many of the patches that were exclusively designed for Bitcoin, especially because there are more Bitcoin developers; Litecoin development is heavily dependent on Bitcoin.

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Litecoin Forks

Therefore, some of the most well-known Litecoin software forks – after the one that resulted in Litecoin itself – have come from the world of Bitcoin. The most prominent of them is the famous UASF (user activated soft fork) that resulted in the deployment of SegWit, or segregated witness. SegWit is a malleability fix that allows transaction signatures to be recorded outside the block. This solution to Bitcoin’s malleability problem, was the last piece necessary to enable Lightning Network transactions. Nevertheless, when the time came to deploy SegWit, Litecoin deployed it before Bitcoin did, on 10 May 2017.

Litecoin Hard Forks

There are other prominent Litecoin forks that did not come from Bitcoin. Apart from every client upgrade from 0.1.0 to 0.17.1 – every upgrade on a blockchain-based cryptocurrency requires a fork – there are also those Litecoin forks that resulted in the creation of additional altcoins. These were all hard forks, as opposed to SegWit and other client upgrades that were all soft forks. Here is a list of altcoins that were forked from Litecoin:

  • Dogecoin – DOGE, which is probably the most successful fork from the fork of a fork of Bitcoin
  • Junkcoin – JKC, which was the original Litecoin fork that enabled DOGE
  • Luckycoin – LKY, which was the fork of Junkcoin that led later on to DOGE
  • Monacoin – MONA 
  • LitecoinCash – LCC 
  • CloakCoin – CLOAK
  • Einsteinium – EMC2
  • Feathercoin – FTC

Further Litecoin Forks

In this brief history of Litecoin’s developments and forks, of these coins that were forked from Litecoin, only Dogecoin has gathered a significant following, and it was launched as a joke. That is why anyone who follows the development of Litecoin should focus on the client upgrades and other forks that will improve Litecoin’s functionality. MimbleWimble (MW) is the next prominent fork in stock for LTC. It will also be deployed as a Litecoin development that is supposed to be customized to fit the LTC blockchain in a unique manner. 

If it works, MW will provide additional privacy and more anonymity to LTC users, while deploying on a reversible Litecoin software fork. Neither MW nor this particular MW deployment seem to be on the horizon for Bitcoin, although MimbleWimble developers had Bitcoin and not Litecoin in mind when they released their whitepaper. 

Is Litecoin Facebook to Bitcoin’s Myspace?

This brings the comparison between Litecoin and Bitcoin back to the wider prism of Facebook to Myspace. In taking a look at the brief history of Litecoin’s developments and forks, it still remains that Bitcoin is the first mover in the industry, and still has the biggest following. As hard as it is to dethrone the first mover in this space, it seems that Litecoin core developers are keener on adopting technology that was developed for Bitcoin. The result, from the perspective of the user, is a coin that is quickly becoming a pioneer in the industry instead of following Bitcoin’s lead. Nevertheless, it would be a stretch to say that this transformation has taken place in terms of adoption and usage. It still makes Litecoin much more than just silver to Bitcoin’s gold; it makes it an underrated coin in terms of development and an exciting coin to watch insofar as market response to superior technology is concerned.

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