A Brief History of BTC Ordinals and BRC20 that Even a 60-Year-Old Granny Can Understand
A Simplified Explanation of BTC Tokens and BRC20 A History Guide for Seniors
Original Title: A Brief History of BTC L1 New Protocols That Even Grandma Can Understand
Have you recently been baffled by the constant appearance of new protocols like Ordinals, BRC-20, Atomicals, and Pipe? Are you confused about their relationships?
Don’t worry, let me help you organize the timeline and the underlying connections in simple language, without complicated concepts. The goal is to help newcomers and even grandma understand. This article does not constitute investment advice.
Chapter I: Ordinals and BRC-20, Casey and domo’s Happy Arena
The Pandora’s box of Bitcoin was opened by a man named Casey Rodarmor.
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In December 2022, Casey introduced the Ordinals protocol. It assigns a unique sequence number to each satoshi and tracks them in transactions. Anyone can attach additional data, including text, images, videos, etc., to the satoshis through Ordinals. This is made possible by the permissionless nature of blockchain/Bitcoin.
In the early days, Ordinals was not as popular as it is now. Users mainly created NFTs on the platform, and the trading volume was not significant. Casey initially positioned Ordinals as a way for people to store eternal and unchanging things on the oldest and most consensus-driven chain, Bitcoin. Therefore, for a while, many people equated Ordinals with “Bitcoin NFTs.”
Things changed on March 8, 2023, when an anonymous developer named domo launched BRC-20 based on the Ordinals protocol. The name reminds people of the ERC-20 token standard on Ethereum. Yes, you can understand BRC-20 as a protocol for issuing altcoins based on Ordinals (i.e., based on Bitcoin).
Issuing altcoins on BTC? For most people, it felt magical, like going backward. When the first token, ORDI, was issued, tools like Unisat, which offered token creation as a service, did not exist yet. Some tech developers, like ship.eth, seized the opportunity and acquired chips at a very low cost by running a local Bitcoin full node.
With two rounds of popularity in May-June and October-November, BRC-20 transactions occupied a significant proportion of the Ordinals protocol. This annoyed Casey a lot. He publicly stated that BRC-20 brought him a bunch of junk to his creation, Ordinals. That’s why we saw Casey’s team publicly requesting Binance to remove the mention of Ordinals from the ORDI token introduction. Casey didn’t want the Ordinals protocol to be associated with ORDI anymore.
Conclusion 1: Casey himself does not have any ORDI coins. Domo seems to have 1000 (or one) coin, but it is unknown if there are other wallet manipulations. ORDI keeps rising, and what these two individuals are thinking is also unknown.
Gossip 1: During the September conference in Singapore, someone, for some reason, arranged for Casey and Domo to be at the same event. It is said that when they met, they greeted each other friendly. Looking at their tweets, it can be seen that their involvement in the project is completely different.
Gossip 2: During the conference in Singapore, Domo always wore a mask in public. The reason is currently unknown.
Chapter II: Beny, the guy with a complex nesting governance
After the emergence of BRC-20, there was an active developer in the community named Beny (he seems to not have a public Twitter account). This guy is an energetic developer: he released the BRC-20 utility LooksOrdinal (without tokens) in March, deployed TRAC in May, the first 21 million CRSD curse inscriptions in August, released the improved BRC-20 version Tap Protocol for OrdFi in October, and issued the improved version of Pipe protocol for Runes in October.
You might wonder why this guy has so many projects. That’s something you’ll have to ask Beny himself. I can only say that this guy is full of energy and has a keen nose.
So, what is the relationship between these projects?
1. TRAC is a BRC-20 token and also the governance token for Tap Protocol.
2. Tap Protocol is an improvement on the BRC-20 protocol, and TAP and -TAP tokens are both issued based on Tap Protocol, but they are no longer within the scope of BRC-20 (although they are still based on Ordinals).
3. TAP is the governance token for Pipe Protocol.
4. Pipe Protocol is an improvement based on the Runes concept and has already moved away from the Ordinals category.
What an interesting nesting governance!
What’s special is that all 21 million TAP tokens are currently held by Beny and not in circulation. The tokens in circulation in the market are the first -TAP tokens on the Tap Protocol. The project will use TAP for financing and governance and will airdrop a portion to TRAC, -TAP, and PIPE holders, but the specific ratio is still uncertain. (Note: PIPE is the first token issued by the Pipe Protocol.)
If you are interested in Tap Protocol, you can check out the introduction written by the author before:
As for the other two projects LooksOrdinal and -CRSD: the former is a tool without any tokens, and the latter cannot be traded at the moment because the ord development team has not completed all the negative inscription types for -CRSD, so the indexing is not complete.
Conclusion 2: A team has launched three horse-drawn carriages, nested binding, this gameplay is unique in the current L1 world.
Chapter III: After six months of hard work, the new rookie protocol Atomicals reveals its sharpness
About three months after the release of Ordinals, another anonymous developer noticed it. After some deliberation and research, he found some shortcomings in Ordinals.
Then he started working, and after 6-7 months of dedicated development, Atomicals Protocol was launched in September. On September 21st, someone issued the first token ATOM on the Atomicals protocol, which was mined in about 5 hours. Mining ATOM requires computer CPU power, installation and configuration of the local environment, which has a higher technical threshold (more geeky) compared to directly pulling gas with BRC-20, and to some extent, it is fairer.
In terms of the underlying technology, Atomicals Protocol has several important differences compared to Ordinals:
1. Atomicals is based on BTC’s UTXO for minting and propagation, where 1 token = 1 satoshi. This is more in line with Bitcoin’s technology, without adding extra burden to the BTC network, and it has a more “orthodox” technological aesthetic that aligns with BTC Maxi fundamentalism;
2. In comparison, Ordinals is more “do nothing and govern.” It didn’t have a currency issuance protocol itself (that’s why BRC-20 came later), but when Atomicals Protocol was launched, it had already defined the ARC-20 token standard, as well as many other use cases.
As the community delved deeper into the Atomicals Protocol, everyone realized that it was a very complete protocol with a long development time, firmness from the founder, and consideration for various scenarios and features. Therefore, it gradually gained strong respect from the community!
It’s worth mentioning that the developer ship.eth, after watching several interviews with the anonymous founder of Atomicals, said: “This person speaks too much like a young Steve Jobs.” I feel the same way. The way he speaks is very rational and eloquent, and it gives a positive impression. It’s quite similar to Vitalik’s story – when Vitalik believed that Bitcoin had many limitations, his proposals for Bitcoin improvement were rejected, so he and a few other buddies created Ethereum. The birth story of Atomicals Protocol seems to have some similarities.
If you’re interested, you can watch the interviews with the founder:
Conclusion 3: After six months of dedicated development, Atomicals, as a strong competitor to Ordinals, is gaining attention. The ecosystem is still in its early stages, and more builders are pouring in.
Chapter IV: The Reluctant Casey and the Formidable Runes
As mentioned earlier, Casey has never been a fan of BRC-20. He believes that it has brought too many junk runes, polluting the sacred Ordinals. Less than a week after the release of Atomicals, on September 26th, Casey tweeted about a horrifying new idea. He wanted to create a Bitcoin-based token protocol called Runes.
Similar to Atomicals (great minds think alike), the significant improvement of Runes over BRC-20 lies in its utilization of UTXO technology. Casey believes that creating a solid token protocol for Bitcoin could potentially bring substantial transaction fees, more developers, and more users to Bitcoin.
Shortly after the release of the Runes documentation, our comrade Beny saw this opportunity and launched the Pipe protocol based on the ideas of Runes, which connects us back to Chapter II.
As for Casey, he is currently occupied with the upgrade of the Ordinals protocol and addressing occasional bugs, which has consumed a portion of his energy. The official release date of Runes is still uncertain, but I believe it will definitely be a protocol that garners attention within the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Summary 4: Casey, the founder of the currently trending Ordinals protocol, will undoubtedly attract market enthusiasm once Runes is launched.
For the mentioned protocols and their closely related tokens, I have created a simple mind map to illustrate their dependencies and competitive relationships.
Lastly, in the past six months, numerous new “protocols” have emerged on Bitcoin. However, my time and capability are limited, so I apologize for not being able to mention them all.