network takes its name from the concept of Ether; a material filling up and carrying light waves through space.
The theory of ether was abandoned in 1905 when Albert Einstein revealed the special theory of relativity, but it found new life in 2013 as the name of Vitalik Buterin
’s decentralized, open-source blockchain: Ethereum.
Buterin learned about the theory of Ether as a child, and then stumbled on it again in 2013 while researching and writing the Ethereum whitepaper
. In the book on Ethereum titled The Infinite Machine, Camila Russo writes "Vitalik wanted his platform to be the underlying and imperceptible medium for every application, just what medieval scientists thought ether was…plus, it sounded nice.”
Ethereum is indeed a nice-sounding name, but as the network grew, its developers needed some new terminology to describe new iterations of Ethereum, and they landed on Ethereum 2.0.
You’ve probably heard the term before. Up until fairly recently, many of us referred to Ethereum’s current proof-of-work
(PoW) chain as Ethereum 1.0, and the new and improved proof-of-stake
(PoS) chain as Ethereum 2.0. However, it turns out that these terms are outdated and no longer accurately describe the various development phases of Ethereum’s roadmap, hence the terms needed to be replaced.
The original development roadmap involved Ethereum’s original PoW blockchain being phased and eventually made obsolete via the difficulty bomb. If the bomb had gone off, mining on the Ethereum 1.0 PoW chain would have become far more difficult, encouraging miners to migrate to the new PoS chain, after which all of the users and applications would have moved over to the new proof-of-stake chain as well.
However, shortly after development began on the Beacon Chain
, it became clear that the various elements and upgrades outlined in the original Ethereum 2.0 roadmap might take eons to completely deliver, whereas others, like the Beacon Chain, would be delivered quite quickly.
This led Vitalik Buterin to propose an “Early Merge
,” whereby “the eth1 system would “live” as shard 0 of eth2.” To put it another way, the execution layer of the PoW chain would merge with the consensus layer of the Beacon Chain, which has been imaginatively dubbed “The Merge.”
This change to Ethereum’s roadmap means that the terms we have been using have become outdated and inaccurate, which is why Ethereum’s council of elders has decided to do away with the terms entirely. That’s right – there’s no more Ethereum 1.0 or 2.0, nor is there eth1 or eth2. Instead, Ethereum1.0/ eth1 is now called the execution layer, and Ethereum 2.0/ eth2 is called the consensus layer.
If this seems confusing, check out the meme below.
As you can see, when we combine the newly named consensus and execution layers, we have Ethereum.
The Ethereum Foundation hopes that by updating its lingo, its developers could more accurately describe their progress along with the network’s roadmap, and we can all stop erroneously describing Ethereum’s various upgrades and development phases.
It probably doesn’t hurt that we’ll all have to stop asking when we can expect Ethereum 2.0 to arrive as well.
Life was indeed simpler before, but what would be the point of continuing to inaccurately describe Ethereum?
If no longer using outdated terminology isn’t enough to convince you to forget all about eth 1 and 2, Ethereum offers up to four additional reasons for dropping its terminology now rather than later.
Firstly, people intuitively believe that Ethereum 1.0 came before and Ethereum 2.0 came after, and that when 2.0 launches, 1.0 dies. Unfortunately, neither of these is true. Therefore, doing away with Ethereum 2.0 means that future Ethereum users need not navigate this confusing mental model.
Besides, as Ethereum’s roadmap evolved, the old terms no longer accurately described its various developmental stages, rendering them obsolete. But an accurate roadmap with relevant terms is extremely useful, as it allows the broadest possible audience to understand Ethereum. Therefore, changing the terms is in everybody’s best interests.
Also, ever since the term ‘Ethereum 2.0’ entered the crypto sphere, we’ve seen a proliferation of scams and schemes where users are duped into swapping their “eth1” tokens for “eth2” tokens, which don’t exist. So by scrapping eth2, the foundation hopes to reduce the number of Ethereum users being scammed.
And lastly, the foundation hopes to clear up some of the confusion surrounding staking on the Beacon Chain. A number of staking operators have represented their staked ETH tokens on the Beacon Chain with an “ETH2” ticker. This has a lot of people scratching their heads because no such ETH2 token actually exists, it just represents their share of their provider’s stake.
These name changes aren’t a change to the roadmap itself, nor will they steer Ethereum in a different direction. Rather, they’re an update to how Ethereum’s roadmap is described as the roadmap evolves over time.
For now, at least, Ethereum is still working towards the same goals from exactly the same timeline, as seen in the image below.
Also, going forward, any updates or changes to Ethereum will henceforth be called “upgrades,” and not Ethereum 3.0 or 4.0.
Ethereum caught quite a bit of flak for the name change, the main complaints being that this new terminology will only add to the confusion. But while the name change might seem unnecessary or overzealous to some, it should pay off in the long term, if only because these new terms are accurate.
As time goes by, the outdated terminology we’ve all been using will only become more inaccurate, as when the merge finally happens, eth1 and eth2 really will cease to exist, and all that’s left will be Ethereum.
This article contains links to third-party websites or other content for information purposes only (“Third-Party Sites”). The Third-Party Sites are not under the control of CoinMarketCap, and CoinMarketCap is not responsible for the content of any Third-Party Site, including without limitation any link contained in a Third-Party Site, or any changes or updates to a Third-Party Site. CoinMarketCap is providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by CoinMarketCap of the site or any association with its operators. This article is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. It is important to do your own research and analysis before making any material decisions related to any of the products or services described. This article is not intended as, and shall not be construed as, financial advice. The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s [company’s] own and do not necessarily reflect those of CoinMarketCap.