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The Birth Of Darkcoin

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Core Developer
This is the story of how Darkcoin came about. Recently the community has grown a lot and many people here aren’t aware at all of the early history of the coin. I’m sure you’ll see from the full story that I would have done things much differently, but hindsight is always 20/20.

So who am I and what do I offer?

My name is Evan Duffield and I’ve been developing software since I was 15. I also have a history in finance and an interest in economics and machine learning. I’ve worked all over the space for PR firms, creating search engines and machine learning algorithms for financial modeling.

I’ve have a rewarding career and consider myself lucky to have been a part of many great projects. Also, it’s worth noting when I worked at Hawk Financial Group I got my series 65 (a financial advisor license) and I’ve used that knowledge extensively for Darkcoin.

The birth of Darkcoin

I discovered Bitcoin in mid 2010 and was obsessed ever since. After a couple of years in 2012 I started really thinking about how to add anonymity to Bitcoin. I came up with maybe 10 ways of doing this, but I soon realized that Bitcoin would never add my code. The developers really want the core protocol to stay the same for the most part and everything else to be implemented on the top of it.

This was the birth of the concept of Darkcoin. I implemented X11 in a weekend and found it worked pretty well and it would give a completely fair start to the currency. What I really was aiming for with X11 is a similar development curve where miners would fight to create small advantages much like the early start of Bitcoin. I think this a requirement to create a healthy ecosystem.

Next I was thinking about changing the reward system. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to add more incentives to join mining early on, driving up the hashrate and protecting the network, that’s when I came up with 1111.0 / ((x+1.0)^2.0), which was the first formula for controlling rewards.


It was January 18, 2014 and I had everything ready or so I thought. I announced the launch of Darkcoin (XCoin at the time) on BitcoinTalk. We launched later and immediately got stuck on block 42, I was new to the Bitcoin codebase and wasn’t sure what I missed so I announced we’d relaunch later.

When we relaunched we had a rush of miners join causing a huge spike of coin production without it being able to adjust the difficulty quick enough, we just ended up spilling out coins. Retargeting happened every 576 blocks and could only increase the difficulty by four times, so it took about six retargets to get to a difficulty that was near 2.5 minutes per block.

Later on, after the difficulty evened out we realized that there was a serious problem with the block reward calculation. You can see people discussing the problems here:


I soon fixed this issue at block 4500, but none of us realized the amount of coins that had been issued at the time. At that point we didn’t even have a block explorer yet.


Right after block 4500 is when I started working on DarkSend. I was trying to create a proof-of-concept and eventually I succeeded, I posted about it and our coin started to become more popular by the day. This is when the coin became a serious project of mine.

Later on we switched to 11111.0 / ((Difficulty+51.0)/6.0)^2), these formulas proved to be much more powerful incentives to drive up the difficulty than I thought they would. Soon after we switched to (2222222.0 / ((Difficulty+2600.0)/9.0)^2.0), targeting a difficulty of about 3400.

In the end?

Darkcoin started from a few months of me thinking about ways to create a better coin and a couple weekends of coding. It wasn’t till later that we got established and I really started taking this seriously. Anyone can compare our recent efforts to the sorted past and see things are going much smoother. No one really knew how much this would blow up (in a good way) and how popular it would be, otherwise I would have took my time in the beginning.

Goals and the future of Darkcoin

I don’t believe the origins of Darkcoin are too much to overcome, but investors and users are going to have to decide for themselves if they want to support the project. Recently I’ve shifted away from other projects to going full time on Darkcoin. I think with a full time developer and our solid community we’ll be able to make something great.

It’s only been a couple months and we have a lot to show for it (X11, DGW and DarkSend Beta) and there is more in the works. This obviously didn’t go perfect but I think we have a really fantastic community and I see a really bright future for Darkcoin.
Fascinating, thanks for sharing this!

It's worth noting that bitcoin had it's own stumbling blocks in the early days. It wasn't a perfect cryptocurrency upon release (arguably still isn't today) and we can see how much time it takes for these projects to be fully fleshed out. There will be those that claim "oh too many coins were mined in the early days," but the reality is that darkcoin is constantly in the process of becoming more distributed as it's network of owners and miners grows. It may also turn out to be a blessing in disguise, because having more coins in the ecosystem to begin with helps ensure that the price doesn't rise too quickly due to scarcity.

I'm a big fan of the reward schedule (annual 7% tapering) and the actual innovations being put in place with this project. Dark Gravity Wave to continuously control and re-target difficult, Darksend so that no one has to pay or trust another party for privacy, and X11 ASIC resistance so that miners can continue to jump aboard with readily available CPU and GPU equipment... I think you've got a huge vote of confidence from the community that things are moving in the right direction.
I think a lot of large holders of coin have been selling them, which is one of the best things we can hope for. This spreads the wealth, and that the coin is at a nice price for both buying and selling (not too expensive, but if you were able to get a ton of coins in the beginning, at $0.75, you'd make an excellent profit) Despite the rocky start, I think the circumstances have been advantageous for our coin. This has been really exciting, since I'm a newb to cryptos, though I've heard of them, my hubby and I just started to dig, I don't know, maybe a week before we discovered Xcoin. It's almost like the timing was serendipitous, LOL. I can't wait to see what the future holds here!

Edited October 9th 2015 to add this great interview:
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This is the story of how Darkcoin came about...
Thank you for your efforts solving a problem that I didn't realise existed until not long ago. I first took a look at Darkcoin after I saw a few people mention it one day in a trollbox on an altcoin exchange and the more I read about it the more I liked it. It's pretty tough sorting the wheat from the chaff in exchange trollboxes sometimes but thankfully I did look into Darkcoin and I saw that it offered much more than the gimmicks that most in the sea of altcoins have to offer - if they do offer anything different at all. The more I think about it, the more Darkcoin's anonymity just makes sense.

To misquote Victor Hugo "There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."
This is an awesome backdrop to what will become a mainstay coin in the future! It's really impressive to see how much work has gone into this coin development, and the passionate posters that help each other out, and help spread awareness across reddit and BTC talk. After a few hours of reading about DarkCoin, I knew this was something I had to jump on to help support. I took a day or so and decided that getting a nice GPU rig would be perfect for this coin. I wanted to continue hobby mining, but didn't want to ASIC arms race and have to repeat the cycle all over again in 3 months. X11 truly is something special in allowing anyone to jump in and help support the network. I can't wait to see how this takes off in the future! :)
I think the timing of this coin is perfect, X11 in combination with Scrypt ASICS coming out, and the focus on the lack of anonymity in the Bitcoin blockchain as it relates to darksend seem to be creating almost a perfect storm of why this coin is necessary to create redundancy in the crypto eco-system. I think we're just a few key milestones away from a parabolic increase in adoption.

This is the only alt that has ever held my interest beyond a few weeks of profitable mining, and in fact i'm not even mining it.
Lol, I just had fun re-reading that section of the thread eduffield linked. It was such chaos, it's funny to read again. I think that's when I thought eduffield was a bit nuts in a good way, cool, just do it attitude in the midst of chaos. It's kind of funny that's all history now :)
It's fun to have been a part of all that. I wish I had been there right at launch, but I"m so glad I'm on board now.

Ummm.. Evan, you wanna drop any hints about the next big thing you have churning in your brain? I have a sense of impending awesomeness..
I sincerely appreciate this post. I am sad I didn't get in on that early mining, but at least there is a clear explanation for the odd block rewards for those of us who stumbled here late.
Yah, but it was obvious to me, even at the time, that Evan was excited, and, sorry Evan, no insult intended, but I suspect you have ADD as many geniuses do, and I also suspect it was an exciting game. I don't think he thought it would take off like it did, it was an experiment that he was excited to let loose.

The good thing is that I think a lot of the large stake holders dumped their coin already early on and since then. This is actually an even better way to distribute wealth, IMO. It isn't limited to those who know how to mine. there should be a study done on how well this coin managed to distribute itself compared to "fair launch" coins. I'll bet my dark (which I find more precious than my dollars, LOL) that you'll find a better distribution! The price of dark is still low and extremely stable even to this day. I think it's worth a lot more, even with just a beta DarkSend right now. So there is and has been for a LONG time, an excellent opportunity for people to "get in on the ground floor" and therefore there must be, in my opinion, a really great spread of people who hold Darkcoin.

RE dumping, many of the original supporters of this coin have given BUTTLOADS of coin away, and continue to do so. I find it funny that one of the larger holders that started with this coin, who has given away extravagant amounts of coin told me they mine where it's most profitable to buy dark, but then give it away on the other end! STILL!!! It's so funny! That's the kind of following this coin has inspired.

If we can only figure out how Dogecoin comes up with these wonderful campaigns (https://www.darkcointalk.org/threads/check-this-out.161/) , nothing could stop us!
I try to do my part in getting this coin popular, and coins given away often results in people staying, if its done the right way :)
I think this community is just as wonderful as Dogecoin's but we lack the (good) crazy aspect that makes them so creative. We're a bit serious and "mature" and that, I think, stifles creativity, LOL. Wish I could think of something to get the community to back up that's fun like NASCAR, the Jamaican Bobsled team, OMG, where do they find this stuff? I think I know, it's because they're not geeks, they're more from the outside world, and Dogecoin brought them in from the "outside" because it was funny. Now, I believe, they're highly responsible for the increase in popularity of crypto currency.

Problem is this kind of stuff can't be forced. It grows out of silly conversations, or something that is organic and grows, just like Dogecoin itself came into being.

Weird how life turns out, always something from where you least expect it!

And yes, CHAOSiTEC, you're pretty darn AWESOME! :D
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Hey, I just had a thought? Maybe we should just join the Dogecoin community in a type of solidarity? A little "official" connection, maybe next time there is a wonderful thing the community is behind, Evan et al can approach their leaders, and we can join in the fund raising, publicly showing a more whimsical side of the Darkcoin community as well as an inclusive attitude?
It's really nice to hear from the man behind the scenes. This is a great post for newcomers like me. Hearing about Evan and the commitment he has put in was one of the things that brought me here. It was an easy decision to put faith into DarkCoin. Congrats on all the success wishing you the best!
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