When it comes to talking about altcoins, there is one cryptocurrency that simply cannot be ignored, as it is the “mother” of all altcoins. Litecoin was originally designed to be the complementary cryptocurrency to Bitcoin, but it has achieved much more than that. A lot has happened since the original launch of Litecoin on October 7 2011, to say the least.
Even though a plethora of other altcoins have come and gone in the world of cryptocurrency, Litecoin is still the number 1 altcoin. Not just in terms of popularity or brand recognition, but also in terms of market capitalization. With the market cap exceeding US$220 million, despite some negative downtrends, there is no other altcoin which can even come to Litecoin.
- Scrypt Algo
- Proof of Work
- Block time 2.5 minutes
- Re-target 2016 blocks
- 50 coins per block
- 82 million total coins
- Reward halfs every 840,000 blocks
Litecoin is developed by Charles (Charlie) Lee, who is actually a former employee of Google. The reason why Litecoin was created is because Charles Lee felt Bitcoin could be improved in multiple ways. As a result, he created a new cryptocurrency with a decreased block generation time, a higher number of coins, a completely different mining algorithm and a slightly tweaked GUI.
One of the main reasons for using a different mining algorithm for Litecoin was for Bitcoin miners to mine Litecoin at the same time. On top of that, using a different algorithm would not give an unfair advantage to video card (GPU), FPGA and ASIC miners, compared to CPU miners. Over the course of the past few months however, Scrypt ASICS have been shipped to miners worldwide.
Fun fact: When Litecoin mining become more popular near the end of 2013, there was a reported shortage of Radeon GPU graphics cards. It was never officially confirmed whether or not this had something to do with more people wanting to mine Litecoin or not, but it was an interesting coincidence to say the least. You can read more about this shortage in one of our previous articles here.
Further development on Litecoin has been done over the past few years, as several Litecoin AT client updates were released. The latest version is 0.8.7.1, which includes some minor bug fixes, as well as an important fix related to the Heartbleed security vulnerability. Earlier this year, a Litecoin Android wallet was released, which can be downloaded in the Google Play Store, free of charge.
The year 2014 has been rather positive for Litecoin so far. Early January, it was announced that GoCoin, a leading Paypal analogy for Bitcoin, started to accept Litecoin. This was a major step for Litecoin, as it was only the second cryptocurrency, and the first altcoin, to join Bitcoin on the GoCoin platform. For more information, check out this article.
In the same month, Litecoin solved a problem which could not be solved by Madagascar’s authorities. New trees had to be planted in order to reduce the effects of global environmental risks. Several activists demanded these trees to be planted, but the authorities were not interested in helping out financially. As a result, the Litecoin community stepped up and raised the necessary funds so 100,000 new trees could be planted. For more details about this story, click here.
In March, a very big announcement was made by the Alpha 7 Trading Academy, which is the US leading trading education platform. Their spokesperson, Ed Gitlin, announced they now allow users to pay with both Bitcoin and Litecoin. If you want to find out more about this announcement, check out the previous CT article here.
Charlie Lee managed to shock the Litecoin and cryptocurrency community in general during April 2014, when he proposed merged mining Litecoin and DogeCoin. There were two main reasons for this idea; as both altcoins were/are still vulnerable to attacks merged mining both coins would significantly reduce the chance of a 51% attack against the network.
“I won't lie. This move will help out Litecoin also. Given my limited resources, I wouldn't waste my time on this if it didn't help Litecoin. Right now, every miner mining Dogecoin (or any other Scrypt coin) is a miner that is not mining Litecoin. So Litecoin's security is a lot less than it could be. So merging mining with Dogecoin would make both Litecoin/Dogecoin almost impossible to 51%.”
All it would take is a hard fork in either coin:
“This [merged mining] can be accomplished by a hard fork in either coin. You've likely seen my take on why hard forking Litecoin is too dangerous today. Not so for Dogecoin.”
This idea didn’t come to fruition at that point however, as it was opposed by Jackson Palmer, the Dogecoin developer:
“Essentially, I don't think merged mining is the answer for Dogecoin right now. It's less than five months old and to say that anything needs to be done right now comes down to pure speculation.”
This topic was revisited during the North American Bitcoin Conference in Chicago on July 19-20, and a decision has been made. Core developer Langer Hans made the following announcement on Reddit a few days ago:
“We have also discussed many other options, some of them which are still highly theoretical, or just deemed to be in Alpha state. We didn’t see them as viable for that exact reason. AuxPoW has been around in the crypto space for quite a while now. Our topmost priority has always been to provide a stable platform for the currency and its services and of course its users. We hope that with AuxPoW we can achieve that in a better way than what it currently is like. Our hashrate has been on a decline and we hope that we can gain more of it with the acceptance of proof of work from other chains.
Yes, this does mean that we are going to fork. The exact switchover is yet to be determined but will happen sooner than later. This post is here to announce it early enough for everyone to prepare for the update. The code is currently in the late testing stage and we are working on ironing out the last small issues.”
AuxPoW stands for Auxiliary Proof-of-Work, and allows for any Scrypt coin to be merged-mined with DogeCoin, as long as the mining difficulty is higher than DogeCoin’s. At this point, only Litecoin meets those criteria, resulting in DogeCoin being merged-mined with Litecoin when this fork goes live. Do keep in mind that you can merge-mine DogeCoin and Litecoin, you are not obligated to do so. If you prefer, you can still mine DogeCoin like you are doing right now.
A comparative look at Litecoin versus Bitcoin was published on this website in May of 2014. It definitely makes for an interesting read if you are interested in finding out more about the differences between both cryptocurrencies.
The latest news involving Litecoin is not so positive unfortunately. BitTrex, a rather popular altcoin exchange, is seriously considering dropping the Litecoin trading markets, and replacing them with BlackCoin trading markets. You can find out more about that announcement here.
All in all, we owe a lot of positive things to the creation of Litecoin. To take it even one step further, the world of cryptocurrency wouldn’t be the same it is today if Litecoin had never been created. Whether you like or dislike this cryptocurrency, it has solidified its place in cryptocurrency, and it won’t be going anywhere any time soon.