Most experts will say that there have been three generations of the web: Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.1. The first iteration of the internet is also referred to as the read-only web, the second is the participative social web and the third version of the internet is the “read, write, execute web.” These three generations have been spread out over the past three decades or so since the internet was invented.
Just as there has been three generations of the web, blockchain technology has also evolved through three different eras, albeit over a much shorter timeline. But while the third iteration of the internet, Web 3.0, is still in its infancy, the three generations of blockchain have distinct and established objectives. So what do we mean by “generations” of blockchain?
Since blockchain is fully reliant on technology, generations are influenced by evolutions in the underlying technology. This usually consists of unlocked uses and new features that increase the technology’s adoption. Let’s look at how the three generations of blockchain technology have evolved.
Cryptocurrency was the first generation, and Bitcoin was undoubtedly the catalyst that led to the popularity of digital tokens. The craze started when Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper more than 10 years ago. Blockchain was only used to facilitate cryptocurrency transactions in its early days, specifically Bitcoin, which was meant to be an alternative to centralized fiat currencies.
Blockchain could solve the problem of centralization thanks to its decentralized nature, and it was seemingly introduced at just the right moment. Soon after the 2008 recession, plenty of people lost trust in the financial system and adopted Bitcoin.
Smart Contracts (Ethereum). The introduction of Ethereum, currently the second most prominent cryptocurrency, defined the beginning of the second generation of blockchain. Ethereum introduced the concept of smart contracts, which refers to blockchain-based contracts that are triggered automatically once all requirements are met.
This smart-contract technology allowed blockchain to evolve into a digital ecosystem, giving developers a chance to launch their own crypto applications and projects using smart contract tech. Ethereum was essentially a platform for developers to expand upon, and it enabled the trustless, decentralized nature that allowed users to enter into agreements without the mediation of a governing body.
Smart Everything (Cardano, Polkadot, Ethereum). As Bitcoin, Ethereum and second-generation blockchains became more popular and attracted more users, they ran into scalability issues, became more sluggish and increased transaction fees significantly. This has led to the emergence of newer projects that have solved most scalability challenges and have nominal transaction fees as well as super-fast processing speeds. These blockchains have found ways to scale up without compromising security or decentralization.
Furthermore, newer blockchains are much more energy efficient and are interoperable, meaning they can interact with each other, something Bitcoin and Ethereum couldn’t do. These improved features have made blockchain even more mainstream, leading to increased interest and investment in blockchain projects by major corporations and institutions.
As entities such as RIOT Blokchain Inc. (NASDAQ: RIOT) deepen their reach, the adoption of blockchain technology is likely to grow in different sectors and industries.
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