The Bitcoin industry has seen a massive influx of copycat projects. Known as “Bitcoin forks”, these projects hardly ever contribute to the overall ecosystem. It is for this reason most of these have petered out already, although some others are a bit more resilient.
Software Fork #1: Bitcoin XT
Several years ago, there was a significant dispute among Bitcoin developers as to how the network should evolve. While the Bitcoin Core team retained plenty of support, some members tried to go a different route. Known as Bitcoin XT, it saw the light of day in late 2014. Hearn intended to introduce a protocol extension to perform UTXO lookups through a set of outpoints. It is this software dispute that eventually resulted in more disputes regarding increasing the Bitcoin block size.
As most people are aware, every Bitcoin block is 1MB in size. It has proven to be a bottleneck for quite some time now. Only so many transactions can be processed every 10 minutes, which is far from ideal. Bitcoin XT aimed to change that narrative, but the plan did not work out.
It has to be said, the Bitcoin XT community had some interesting ideas. Gavin Andresen wanted to introduce 8MB blocks and an ongoing increase in size every two years. Doing so would have taken the Bitcoin transaction output from 7 to 24 transactions per second. Bitcoin XT was eventually abandoned and turned into a Bitcoin Cash software client by mid-2017.
Software Fork #2: Bitcoin Classic
Although Bitcoin Classic has a solid ring to it, the vision by its developers was anything but that. It too wanted to increase the block size of Bitcoin to two megabytes. Some of its code was eventually accepted by Bitcoin XT, but the Bitcoin Classic project ultimately disappeared. Instead, the developers opted to give miners and nodes the option to manually set their preferred block sizes. The software fork ceased to exist in November of 2016 in its software-oriented approach.
Software Fork #3: Bitcoin Unlimited
There have been numerous attempts to create a different or “better’ Bitcoin, without much success. Bitcoin Unlimited aimed to increase the transaction capacity of the network as well. However, it never received enough support from Bitcoin supporters, it is still around today, however, but is now only compatible with Bitcoin Cash.
Hard Fork #1: Bitcoin Cash
Perhaps the biggest “rival” to Bitcoin today is the hard fork that exists since August 1, 2017. Known as Bitcoin Cash, it is the network for users who want to see bigger Bitcoin blocks and more transaction capacity. As a project, it has come under a lot of scrutiny numerous times, even though it is still going strong today. Its price never succeeded in rivaling Bitcoin in any way, though, which was to be expected.
Bitcoin Cash is supported by Roger Ver, also known as “Bitcoin Jesus” due to his early investments in Bitcoin and service providers. Ever since openly associating with Bitcoin Cash, the Bitcoin community has “cast him out”, so to speak. He remains a public figure associated with this hard fork today. Bitcoin Cash has far fewer transactions, nodes, and miners than Bitcoin.
Hard Fork #2: Bitcoin SV
Contrary to what most people may assume, Bitcoin SV is not a direct hard fork of Bitcoin itself. Instead, it is a forked version of Bitcoin Cash, which saw the light of day in November of 2018. Backed by Craig Wright – who claims to be Satoshi Makamoto – the project has been in disarray for some time now. It has never amounted to much, other than “being a lesser version of Bitcoin”. Even though it has a block size of 32 MB, the miners and node operators are seemingly not interested in this effort.
Hard Fork #3: Bitcoin Gold
Most people may have forgotten Bitcoin Gold is another Bitcoin fork. It has been around since late October 2017, but quickly lost traction. More and more exchanges are currently in the process of delisting BTC, simply because no one is interested in trading this currency.
As far as purpose goes, Bitcoin Gold did not seem to address a specific need or shortcoming right away. Although it ensures no ASIC hardware can be used to mine on the blockchain, there is no other reason to check out Bitcoin Gold today. The network has suffered multiple attacks as well, resulting in funds either being stolen or double-spent. Far from an ideal situation, for obvious reasons.