If you’re a little more well-versed in technology and the online space, you may have heard of blockchain technology. Whether it’s in relation to fintech, Web 3.0, cryptocurrencies, or even traditional sectors, blockchain has been growing in popularity and if until now you didn’t know much about it, you may need to quickly fill in the gaps, to ensure you’re prepared for the digital future.

Here we’ll be taking a historical look at this technology and explaining what is the longest running blockchain, as well as providing more information about blockchain technology as a whole, and some opinions on its future. If you’re curious about it, keep reading, as we may give you some interesting data.

Before Explaining What Is the Longest Running Blockchain: A Look at the Technology

If you’re completely unfamiliar with blockchain technology, we’ll use this section to summarize the information you need to know about it, before going any further and talking about what is the longest running blockchain. A blockchain is a continuous chain of interconnected blocks in a chronological sequence that comply with cryptographic rules. Every block contains the hash of the previous one, information about the timestamp, and the transaction data, where the time is used to prove that the transaction existed when the block was published to get into its hash. This interconnectivity allows for the ability of the technology to be very difficult to manipulate because to change a single block, you’ll have to affect the whole chain.

Blockchains are used for different things, such as cryptocurrency, smart contracts, supply chains, domain names, financial services, and games. But to summarize their main use: it’s to serve as a ledger for information that can’t be changed or altered easily and where all users have equal rights over the process.

There are different types of blockchains, including private and public, hybrid blockchains, and sidechains, all serving specific purposes. There’s a lot more to be said about it, since it’s been developing very rapidly in the last few years, being adopted by different sectors and fields. But what we’ve mentioned here could serve as a starting point for you and may be enough to move on to talking about more historical data and answering eventually what is the longest running blockchain.

What Is the Longest Running Blockchain’s Ancestor?

Before what is the longest running blockchain today was introduced, there were other attempts to create similar technology. They are worth mentioning since they’ve later inspired the blockchain we’ll be discussing shortly as they were cited in its introduction. Let’s look at them.

One of the first mentions of technology that’s similar to blockchains we know today was in 1982. Then, David Chaum included it in his dissertation with the title “Computer Systems Established, Maintained, and Trusted by Mutually Suspicious Groups”. But for this even early stages of blockchain technology to be put to use, it took a little longer. Stuart Haber, W. Scott Stornetta, and Dave Bayer were the first to actually introduce mechanisms that resemble the tech we’re exploring today.

Their company Surety introduced a technology called Merkle tree, more commonly known today as a hash tree. The Merkle tree was used to allow several document certificates to be collected into one block. This achieved their goal to create a system where the document timestamps can’t be tampered with, similarly to blockchain today. And they succeeded because since 1995 their document certificate hashes have been published in The New York Times.

Image of connected hexagons with the Bitcoin logo in them

What Is the Longest Running Blockchain?

It may sound surprising that the first practical attempt at blockchain technology is still used in The New York Times, but if you get a little more familiar with the current state of blockchain, and the wide adoption it has, you won’t be as surprised. But as promised, let’s now after getting the pre-historical look, reach the answer to the question we’ve promised to tackle: what is the longest running blockchain?

Bitcoin is the first blockchain of the kind we’re familiar with today and it’s also the longest running one, continuing to operate since its launch to this very day. The creator or group of creators of Bitcoin, using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, have stated that while the idea for it was born in 2007, it took two years, and only in 2009 it was released to the public. The technology behind the first crypto, which today is known as what is the longest running blockchain, complies fully with the intention of Nakamoto for BTC – a decentralized alternative to traditional finances. Both the cryptocurrency and the blockchain allow users more equal rights than fiat money and banks do, that’s why they worked as a pioneer in the decentralized finances world and brought many other assets and networks that we can use today.

What Is the Longest Running Blockchain Method of Work?

When in 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto published the whitepaper for Bitcoin, a document describing the purpose of a blockchain and cryptocurrency, a number of the cited sources were publications by Haber and Stornetta. This confirmed where the BTC developer took their inspiration and that the first attempts at blockchain really made this technology possible today. While Nakamoto took inspiration from the Surety product, they changed the way the Bitcoin blockchain would work, using the Hashcash-like method for the timestamps of blocks. You may have heard of this method if you’re familiar with the prevention of email spam or DoS attacks. It works as users are required to compute hard but not impossible functions, simply put to solve complex mathematical problems and get rewarded for it.

The method was implied in the Bitcoin blockchain and became known as the Proof-of-Work mechanism, used for mining cryptocurrency, and for each solved problem on the blockchain, the miners receive a set sum of the native cryptocurrency. If you’re curious, the Bitcoin rewards began at 50 bitcoins for each solved block and have since lowered to 6.25 bitcoins because of the scarcity of the asset.

Another part of what is the longest running blockchain’s way of work is the resolving of proof of time for blocks. The Bitcoin blockchain made it possible for blocks to be timestamped without the need of a third party to verify it, while also stabilizing the rate at which blocks are added to the chain. Instead of one authority controlling the process, a big network of users works to verify collectively the transactions.

As the technology evolves, the way of work of what is the longest running blockchain known today has also been able to change for other blockchains. Now the Proof-of-Work introduced by Bitcoin is still widely used, but many have risen concerns about how sustainable it is, so alternative methods like Proof-of-Stake have emerged.

What Is the Longest Running Blockchain Facing as Competition Today?

Taking into consideration the highest Bitcoin price of close to $70K you’d imagine that the asset was taken seriously right from the start, yes? It wasn’t, though, because it appeared at a time during which people were heavily affected by the 2008 financial crisis. They weren’t willing to risk their money for this new thing they didn’t know how much it’d last. Similarly, it took a considerably long time for what is the longest running blockchain today to become as famous as it is as well as make the technology more well-known.

When the blockchain technology became popular and adopted, many competitors started appearing against the Bitcoin blockchain. As we’ve mentioned, the Proof-of-Stake method came to serve as a potentially better and more sustainable version. There’s also the fact that more than 20K crypto assets emerged and said how much more potential they have than the first crypto. And while not all are worth considering, some blockchains do seem like worthy competitors of what is the longest running blockchain today. That’s why we’ll briefly mention them here:

  • Ethereum: First on our list is the biggest competitor of what is the longest running blockchain – the Ethereum blockchain. Shortly after BTC started really gaining popularity, the biggest programmable blockchain appeared. While Bitcoin serves only as a blockchain for transaction purposes, Ethereum appeared to serve as a place for smart contract execution and proudly accepted the title king of them. Today it’s the most used blockchain for the creation of decentralized applications, the creation of cryptocurrencies and NFTs, and other DeFi purposes. The blockchain also has its native digital asset called Ether or ETH, which is the biggest rival of the Bitcoin crypto.
  • Cardano: Cardano doesn’t want to only take down what is the longest running blockchain today, Bitcoin, but it also claims to be a rival of Ethereum as well. Aiming to be more sustainable than both, the native blockchain of the ADA crypto has an extensive roadmap to becoming a popular platform for developers and it’s been working steadily to achieve it, now being possible to execute smart contracts onto it.
  • Solana: A very worthy competitor of what is the longest running blockchain today is the Solana blockchain. It uses not only the Proof-of-Stake mechanism but also combines it with its own innovative one, called Proof-of-History. Solana’s native crypto SOL also became a center of attention for investors when in 2021 jumped considerably in price.

Image of a chain with a text reading Bitcoin on it, symbolizing the Bitcoin blockchain

What Is the Longest Running Blockchain Outlook for the Future?

To summarize our information, for those who got overwhelmed by the historical and tech data, or you simply skipped to the conclusion: Bitcoin is the answer to what is the longest running blockchain. While there were made attempts at this technology at the end of the previous century, and it really turned into a valuable first source for Bitcoin, it was only in 2009 when this technology was pioneered in the way known to us now. And then it took some time but it got popular, as the Bitcoin cryptocurrency did, and today it’s very widely adopted in different sectors and for different purposes.

But what is the longest running blockchain’s purpose? The Bitcoin blockchain was initially created to serve as the peer-to-peer network for the transactions of the first fiat alternative and to this day successfully achieves this. As blockchain became more popular, though, developers came up with new ideas about it. Now so many other blockchains exist, all with different purposes and use cases. Would Satoshi Nakamoto have included smart contracts or NFTs on the first blockchain? We can’t know really. But maybe they would, had those things been created, because they emerged only after Bitcoin established itself.

Where are we going with this? The point here is that Bitcoin is the pioneer both in cryptocurrency and in blockchain technology and if now it seems outdated, it’s not really fair to judge it so harsh as when it emerged, it introduced the technology, building it almost from scratch and if its developer had known earlier, they may have made it more sustainable or better, according to our modern standards. But does it serve its purpose? Absolutely.

That’s why you should be anxious about what is the longest running blockchain’s future. If the crypto continues to be in circulation, so will the blockchain. And if it stops? That’d affect all related sectors and definitely be a great conversation starter on its own. We’re excited to wait and see how it all goes.

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