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The history of Ethereum

A timeline of all the major milestones, forks, and updates to the Ethereum blockchain.

What are forks?

Changes to the rules of the Ethereum protocol which often include planned technical upgrades.

Forks are when major technical upgrades or changes need to be made to the network – they typically stem from Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) and change the "rules" of the protocol.

When upgrades are needed in traditional, centrally-controlled software, the company will just publish a new version for the end-user. Blockchains work differently because there is no central ownership. Ethereum clients must update their software to implement the new fork rules. Plus block creators (miners in a proof-of-work world, validators in a proof-of-stake world) and nodes must create blocks and validate against the new rules. More on consensus mechanisms

These rule changes may create a temporary split in the network. New blocks could be produced according to the new rules or the old ones. Forks are usually agreed upon ahead of time so that clients adopt the changes in unison and the fork with the upgrades becomes the main chain. However in rare cases, disagreements over forks can cause the network to permanently split – most notably the creation of Ethereum Classic with the DAO fork.

2021

(In Progress) Altair

📆Planned: Oct-27-2021 10:56:23 AM +UTC
🧱Planned epoch number: 74,240
💰ETH price: to be determined

Summary

The Altair upgrade is the first scheduled upgrade for the Beacon Chain. It will add support for "sync committees", which can enable light clients, and will bring inactivity and slashing penalties up to their full values.

🚨 Beacon Chain node operators

The date for this upgrade has been set for Wednesday, October 27. If you are operating a beacon chain node, it's time to upgrade to a version that supports the Altair upgrade. Check with your clients communication channels for latest information and details on compatible versions.


London

📆 Aug-05-2021 12:33:42 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 12,965,000
💰 ETH price: $2621 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The London upgrade introduced EIP-1559, which reformed the transaction fee market, along with changes to how gas refunds are handled and the Ice Age schedule.

London EIPs

Official improvements included in this upgrade.

  • EIP-1559improves the transaction fee market
  • EIP-3198returns the BASEFEE from a block
  • EIP-3529 - reduces gas refunds for EVM operations
  • EIP-3541 - prevents deploying contracts starting with 0xEF
  • EIP-3554delays the Ice Age until December 2021

Berlin

📆 Apr-15-2021 10:07:03 AM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 12,244,000
💰 ETH price: $2454 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Berlin upgrade optimized gas cost for certain EVM actions, and increases support for multiple transaction types.

Berlin EIPs

Official improvements included in this upgrade.

  • EIP-2565lowers ModExp gas cost
  • EIP-2718enables easier support for multiple transaction types
  • EIP-2929gas cost increases for state access opcodes
  • EIP-2930adds optional access lists

2020

Beacon Chain genesis

📆 Dec-01-2020 12:00:35 PM +UTC
🧱 Beacon Chain block number: 1
💰 ETH price: $586.23 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Beacon Chain needed 16384 deposits of 32 staked ETH to ship securely. This happened on November 27, meaning the Beacon Chain started producing blocks on December 1, 2020. This is an important first step in achieving the Eth2 vision.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement


Staking deposit contract deployed

📆 Oct-14-2020 09:22:52 AM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 11052984
💰 ETH price: $379.04 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The staking deposit contract introduced staking to the Ethereum ecosystem. Although a Mainnet contract, it had a direct impact on the timeline for launching the Beacon Chain, an important Eth2 upgrade.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement


Muir Glacier

📆 Jan-02-2020 08:30:49 AM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 9200000
💰 ETH price: $127.18 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Muir Glacier fork introduced a delay to the difficulty bomb. Increases in block difficulty of the proof-of-work consensus mechanism threatened to degrade the usability of Ethereum by increasing wait times for sending transactions and using dapps.

Muir Glacier EIPs

Official improvements included in this fork.

  • EIP-2384delays the difficulty bomb for another 4,000,000 blocks, or ~611 days.

2019

Istanbul

📆 Dec-08-2019 12:25:09 AM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 9069000
💰 ETH price: $151.06 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Istanbul fork:

  • Optimised the gas cost of certain actions in the EVM.
  • Improved denial-of-service attack resilience.
  • Made Layer 2 scaling solutions based on SNARKs and STARKs more performant.
  • Enabled Ethereum and Zcash to interoperate.
  • Allowed contracts to introduce more creative functions.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement

Istanbul EIPs

Official improvements included in this fork.

  • EIP-152allow Ethereum to work with privacy-preserving currency like Zcash.
  • EIP-1108cheaper cryptography to improve gas costs.
  • EIP-1344protects Ethereum against replay attacks by adding CHAINID opcode.
  • EIP-1884optimising opcode gas prices based on consumption.
  • EIP-2028reduces the cost of CallData to allow more data in blocks – good for Layer 2 scaling.
  • EIP-2200other opcode gas price alterations.

Constantinople

📆 Feb-28-2019 07:52:04 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 7280000
💰 ETH price: $136.29 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Constantinople fork:

  • Ensured the blockchain didn't freeze before proof-of-stake was implemented.
  • Optimised the gas cost of certain actions in the EVM.
  • Added the ability to interact with addresses that haven't been created yet.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement

Constantinople EIPs

Official improvements included in this fork.

  • EIP-145optimises cost of certain on-chain actions.
  • EIP-1014allows you to interact with addresses that have yet to be created.
  • EIP-1052optimises cost of certain on-chain actions.
  • EIP-1234makes sure the blockchain doesn't freeze before proof-of-stake.

2017

Byzantium

📆 Oct-16-2017 05:22:11 AM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 4370000
💰 ETH price: $334.23 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Byzantium fork:

  • Reduced block mining rewards from 5 to 3 ETH.
  • Delayed the difficulty bomb by a year.
  • Added ability to make non-state-changing calls to other contracts.
  • Added certain cryptography methods to allow for layer 2 scaling.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement

Byzantium EIPs

Official improvements included in this fork.

  • EIP-140adds REVERT opcode.
  • EIP-658status field added to transaction receipts to indicate success or failure.
  • EIP-196adds elliptic curve and scalar multiplication to allow for ZK-Snarks.
  • EIP-197adds elliptic curve and scalar multiplication to allow for ZK-Snarks.
  • EIP-198enables RSA signature verification.
  • EIP-211adds support for variable length return values.
  • EIP-214adds STATICCALL opcode, allowing non-state-changing calls to other contracts.
  • EIP-100changes difficulty adjustment formula.
  • EIP-649delays difficulty bomb by 1 year and reduces block reward from 5 to 3 ETH.

2016

Spurious Dragon

📆 Nov-22-2016 04:15:44 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 2675000
💰 ETH price: $9.84 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Spurious Dragon fork was the second response to the denial of service (DoS) attacks on the network (September/October 2016) including:

  • tuning opcode pricing to prevent future attacks on the network.
  • enabling “debloat” of the blockchain state.
  • adding replay attack protection.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement

Spurious Dragon EIPs

Official improvements included in this fork.

  • EIP-155prevents transactions from one Ethereum chain from being rebroadcasted on an alternative chain, for example a testnet transaction being replayed on the main Ethereum chain.
  • EIP-160adjusts prices of EXP opcode – makes it more difficult to slow down the network via computationally expensive contract operations.
  • EIP-161allows for removal of empty accounts added via the DOS attacks.
  • EIP-170changes the maximum code size that a contract on the blockchain can have – to 24576 bytes.

Tangerine whistle

📆 Oct-18-2016 01:19:31 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 2463000
💰 ETH price: $12.50 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Tangerine Whistle fork was the first response to the denial of service (DoS) attacks on the network (September/October 2016) including:

  • addressing urgent network health issues concerning underpriced operation codes.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement

Tangerine Whistle EIPs

Official improvements included in this fork.

  • EIP-150increases gas costs of opcodes that can be used in spam attacks.
  • EIP-158reduces state size by removing a large number of empty accounts that were put in the state at very low cost due to flaws in earlier versions of the Ethereum protocol.

DAO fork

📆 Jul-20-2016 01:20:40 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 1920000
💰 ETH price: $12.54 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The DAO fork was in response to the 2016 DAO attack where an insecure DAO contract was drained of over 3.6 million ETH in a hack. The fork moved the funds from the faulty contract to a new contract with a single function: withdraw. Anyone who lost funds could withdraw 1 ETH for every 100 DAO tokens in their wallets.

This course of action was voted on by the Ethereum community. Any ETH holder was able to vote via a transaction on a voting platform. The decision to fork reached over 85% of the votes.

Some miners refused to fork because the DAO incident wasn't a defect in the protocol. They went on to form Ethereum Classic.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement


Homestead

📆 Mar-14-2016 06:49:53 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 1150000
💰 ETH price: $12.50 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The Homestead fork that looked to the future. It included several protocol changes and a networking change that gave Ethereum the ability to do further network upgrades.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement

Homestead EIPs

Official improvements included in this fork.

  • EIP-2makes edits to contract creation process.
  • EIP-7adds new opcode: DELEGATECALL
  • EIP-8introduces devp2p forward compatibility requirements

2015

Frontier thawing

📆 Sep-07-2015 09:33:09 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 200000
💰 ETH price: $1.24 USD
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

The frontier thawing fork lifted the 5,000 gas limit per block and set the default gas price to 51 gwei. This allowed for transactions – transactions require 21,000 gas.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement


Frontier

📆 Jul-30-2015 03:26:13 PM +UTC
🧱 Block number: 0
💰 ETH price: N/A
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Summary

Frontier was a live, but barebone implementation of the Ethereum project. It followed the successful Olympic testing phase. It was intended for technical users, specifically developers. Blocks had a gas limit of 5,000. This ‘thawing’ period enabled miners to start their operations and for early adopters to install their clients without having to ‘rush’.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement

2014

Ether sale

📆 July 22 - September 02, 2014
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

Ether officially went on sale for 42 days. You could buy it with BTC.

Read the Ethereum Foundation announcement


Yellowpaper released

📆 April 01, 2014
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

The Yellow Paper, authored by Dr. Gavin Wood, is a technical definition of the Ethereum protocol.

View the Yellow Paper

2013

Whitepaper released

📆 November 27, 2013
🖥️ ethereum.org on waybackmachine

The introductory paper, published in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, before the project's launch in 2015.