The Battle For Bitcoin: The Network’s First Major Civil War

Bitcoin Magazine

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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