Litecoin has been referred to as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. It is definitely modeled after Bitcoin with the intention of some specific improvements. This has caused many people to believe that Litecoin is a fork of Bitcoin. Is this really the case? We’re going to examine the question and the nature of forks in cryptocurrency to see if we can find an acceptable answer.
A Little About Litecoin
Before we get into a specific answer for this question of is Litecoin a fork of Bitcoin lets look at the token developer Charlie Lee envisioned as a better alternative to the world’s most popular token.
Litecoin was released in 2011, two years after the release of Bitcoin. From a technical standpoint Litecoin is almost an identical twin to Bitcoin, and it is among the very first Bitcoin spin-offs which have come to be regarded as altcoins.
Litecoin is written in C++ programming language and is classified as an open-source software project. It is based on a cryptographic protocol and is decentralized just like Bitcoin. It’s developers hoped it would resolve a lot of issues such as scaling and the speed at which cryptocurrency transactions are processed.
Understanding a Cryptocurrency Fork
Those who look into the meaning of a fork in cryptocurrency might be surprised to discover that the word is actually used in four different contexts where crypto is concerned. It can be confusing when some project is described as a fork because the word can refer to different events. Let’s look at the four different types of forks to see which one, if any, can be applied to Litecoin.
A project fork is not unique to cryptocurrency. It is when someone developing software takes the source code from another software package and begins to modify it for their own software. This is permitted when a source code is open-source. The end result is that the developers create an entirely new piece of software that evolved from the source code of another project.
Litecoin is indeed derived from the source code of Bitcoin. The source code from Bitcoin was modified by Lee and his team of developers to create the Litecoin code. Therefore, Litecoin meets the requirements to be labeled as a project fork of Bitcoin.
Soft forks are essentially upgrades to a blockchain protocol which are backwards compatible with previous versions of the platform. An example that does not relate to crypto would be when a video game company releases a new console. Sometimes the games released for previous consoles can be played on the new system. This is similar to a soft fork in cryptocurrency.
In the sense of a blockchain the blocks that are created by new nodes will also be accepted by old nodes. This type of fork is more gentle than others we will discuss, and generally those who are running older nodes on a crypto network will not need to make an upgrade to continue running a node.
In contrast, a hard fork is an upgrade that is not backwards compatible. When the blocks that are created by new nodes it is not possible for the old nodes or the older consensus protocol to accept these blocks. The end result is that a new token is created with its own architecture.
Perhaps the best known example of a hard fork is Bitcoin Cash. This hard fork of Bitcoin has its own blocks that are not recognized as part of the Bitcoin architecture. They are two separate projects with two separate tokens that have two separate values.
Under the definitions that we have just explored we can see that Litecoin is not a fork of Bitcoin when these requirements are applied.
The fourth type of fork is technically referred to as a chain split. These “forks” are happening all the time in cryptocurrency and refer to miners extending there portions of the blockchain. Chain splits resolve themselves when one chain becomes longer than another and creates an orphan of the shorter chain.
The Genesis Block Gives the Answer
Is Litecoin a fork of Bitcoin? Yes and no. When someone compares the 0 block of the respective blockchains, also known as the Genesis block, it can easily be seen that Litecoin and Bitcoin have different Genesis blocks. There is no commonality.
Litecoin is a project fork of Bitcoin because Charlie Lee used the Bitcoin source code to develop his project.
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