The first block on the Cardano network was minted on September 23, 2017, at 11:44:51 PM. The network never needed any reboot or rollback of the blockchain. This is not quite common and can be considered a success. There was a single network incident from which Cardano was able to recover on its own.
A genesis block is the first block in a blockchain. All subsequent blocks can trace their lineage back to the genesis block. The genesis block serves as a reference point for verifying the integrity and security of the network. The genesis block hash is:
The slot leader was Input Output Hong Kong (today Input Output Global), i.e. the R&D team building Cardano.
In the Cardano roadmap, you will find these eras named after famous people: Byron, Shelley, Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire.
In the first Byron era, also called the bootstrap era, you could only send ADA from wallet to wallet. The network operated in a federated mode in which nodes were controlled by the 3 founding entities IOHK, Cardano Foundation, and Emurgo.
At that time, the first Yoroi light wallet from Emurgo was created. The IOHK team worked on the Daedalus full node wallet.
There was research going on that was mainly focused on Ouroboros Proof-of-Stake. Ouroboros is the first Proof-of-Stake protocol created on the basis of academic research, with a mathematically-proven level of security.
The following Shelley era brought Cardano decentralization. On July 29, 2020, there was a Shelley hard fork. That was the day when staking on Cardano started.
The Shelley hard fork primarily represented a major shift in the decentralization of the Cardano network. Although the transfer of consensus to the hands of ADA holders was gradual (controlled by a parameter), relatively quickly nodes operated by independent operators produced 100% of all blocks. Cardano has become completely independent of the nodes operated by the IOG team.
The Cardano network celebrates 6 birthdays. In July 2023, it celebrated 3 years of staking and decentralization.
A Network Incident that Proved the Robustness of Cardano
Cardano had one network incident on January 22, 2023.
Cardano experienced a transient anomaly that caused about 50% of nodes to disconnect and automatically restart. Both relay nodes and block producer nodes were affected. Some nodes were disconnected from peers. The others automatically restarted after an exception was thrown.
Most of the affected nodes automatically recovered and resumed their work. The network behaved exactly as expected. The impact of the incident on block production was minimal and brief. Cardano recovered through a kind of “self-healing" mechanism. Consensus with so-called probabilistic finality, which is inherently very robust, played a significant role.
Importantly, the pool operators hardly had to do anything. There was no need to agree or coordinate anything. There was no need to fix any bug in the code in order for the network to return to an operational state. A similar event never happened again.
Cardano's network is upgraded relatively often. Not only the consensus, but also the Plutus platform, the ledger, the network layer, and other parts of Cardano are constantly being improved. During upgrades, there are no network interruptions, as the team created a tool called hard-fork combinator for this purpose. Users can use the network 24/7 even during network upgrades.
The Goguen era was about the programmability of Cardano, i.e. about smart contracts. This upgrade also happened via the hard-fork combinator. Cardano got smart contracts on September 12, 2021, when the Alonzo hard fork went live on the mainnet.
The team is currently working on the scalability and governance of the project. So the team is working in parallel on tasks related to Basho and Voltaire eras.
Cardano is a project that moves significantly forward in quality every year. The number of stakers, the number of minted tokens, deployed DeFi applications, and their users are growing. This happens regardless of the ongoing bear market. It is more than likely that we will celebrate 10 birthdays together soon.