The First Major Bitcoin Civil War — Bitcoin Magazine

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This is an opin­ion edi­to­r­i­al by Sam­son Mow, CEO of JAN3 and for­mer CSO of Blockstream.

The first major “civ­il war” in Bit­coin, which would decide the fate of the pro­to­col, took place main­ly between 2015 and 2017 and is referred to as the “Block­size War” or some­times the “Scal­ing Debate.” As Bit­coin became more pop­u­lar and the blocks filled up, trans­ac­tions became slow­er and more expen­sive. From diver­gent visions of Bit­coin, two camps emerged: the “Big Block­ers,” most­ly busi­ness types who sup­pos­ed­ly want­ed faster, cheap­er trans­ac­tions and Bit­coin to be estab­lished as a glob­al pay­ment sys­tem com­pet­ing with Visa and Pay­Pal in the short-term, and the “Small Block­ers,” most­ly engi­neer types who saw Bit­coin as a new mon­ey net­work that could trans­form our world in the long-term, if it stayed decen­tral­ized. They pri­or­i­tized integri­ty, resilience and secu­ri­ty, argu­ing that if blocks became big, it would become expen­sive for users to run a node and would thus incen­tivize host­ing nodes in data cen­ters; a one-way street towards cen­tral­iza­tion and con­trol by a few, not much dif­fer­ent from oth­er sys­tems like banks. This would mean the death of the dream of an apo­lit­i­cal, incor­rupt­ible, decen­tral­ized money.



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