Blockchain Technology's Three Generations

n the development of the internet, one can point to landmark events that can be used to divide the process into stages. Among these important landmarks are the creation of the first wide-area computer networks in the 1960s, the development of an electronic mail system in the 1970s, the creation of ethernet later in that decade, the launching of the world wide web in the 1990s and the creation of the first browsers and search engines later in that decade, among others. Following each of these hallmark developments, the internet changed in a dramatic way. Each step was pivotal in creating the internet that we know and rely on today.

In a similar way, it's possible to look back on the development of blockchain and also divide it into stages which are marked off by important developments and inventions. Blockchain technology has only been in existence for a fraction of the time that the internet has, so it's likely that there are still important developments to come. Even now, though, experts have begun to divide the history of blockchain into at least three important stages.

Stage 1: Bitcoin and Digital Currencies

While the ideas that would go into the blockchain were swirling around in computer science communities, it was the pseudonymous developer of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, who outlined the blockchain as we know it in the white paper for BTC. In this way, blockchain technology began with the Bitcoin network. While blockchain has since gone on to see use in a huge variety of other areas, in some sense it was designed specially for this digital currency and for advancing the goals of digital currencies more broadly.