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Initial release of Blockstack Core

Today, we’re excited to announce the initial release of Blockstack Core – an experimental system that implements decentralized naming and secure data storage on top of a blockchain like Bitcoin. Before we dive into what this is all about, let’s first provide a little background.

Why a new key-value store?

We consider decentralized naming and identity to be one of the most powerful applications of the blockchain, and we are proud to be building on top of and helping drive forward the Blockstack identity system.

We have always stated that something like a blockchain-based identity system could ultimately live on any blockchain and we are hoping this will show that to be true.

Right now, there’s an implementation on the Namecoin blockchain, but names could just as easily be ported to sidechains, a logic-heavy blockchain like Ethereum, or protocols like Counterparty that build embedded chains of consensus on top of the Bitcoin blockchain (let’s call them topchains).

What if I told you... you could have a blockchain within a blockchain.

Cryptocurrency developers highly value the ability to build on the strongest and best-supported blockchains, and because of this we decided to take a crack at releasing an experimental system on top of Bitcoin.

Design Overview

  1. Based on the Bitcoin blockchain: see above.
  2. Unlimited data storage: Storing large amounts of data in the blockchain can lead to blockchain bloat, so we decided to initially use a DHT (distributed hash table) for data storage while storing only hashes of the data in the blockchain, yielding virtually unlimited storage.
  3. Give money back to miners: Miners provide critical infrastructure for the Bitcoin ecosystem and we believe that any services built on top of Bitcoin should contribute to Bitcoin mining incentives.
  4. End-to-end design principle: The end-to-end design principle of keeping the core of the network simple proved to be very successful for the Internet, and we believe this is a good decision for blockchain applications as well. Thus, we use the blockchain for a few basic operations and keeping most of the intelligence client-side.

You can check out our codebase and documentation on Github for more information.

{<2>}Diagram of blockstack on Bitcoin and DHT

Future Development

We’re releasing Blockstack Core simply as an early experiment and are calling on the Bitcoin, Namecoin, and cryptocurrency communities for feedback. When it comes to building the next generation infrastructure that is going to power the future of applications, it’s important to consider a wide range of design choices. We hope that Blockstack Core adds to this healthy debate and blockchain-based key-value stores become more reliable, secure, and full-featured as a result of this experiment.

Blockstack Core on Github

* An earlier version of this post used the term Blockstore. This post has been edited to reflect that Blockstore’s functionality was later merged into Blockstack Core.

Muneeb Ali

Muneeb Ali

Dr. Muneeb Ali is the founder of Stacks, a decentralized network that brings apps and smart contracts to Bitcoin. He serves as the CEO of Hiro PBC, a Public Benefit Corp that builds developer tools for the Stacks blockchain. He has raised $75 million USD in funding from investors like Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator, Lux Capital, Winklevoss Capital, and others. Hiro (formerly Blockstack PBC) was featured in the CNBC's list of 100 promising startups to watch. Muneeb received his Ph.D. and Masters in Computer Science from Princeton University. His Ph.D. thesis was nominated for the ACM SIGCOMM dissertation award by Princeton University. Muneeb gives guest lectures on cloud computing at Princeton and his research publications have over 1,300 citations. He is one of the main characters in George Gilder's book Life After Google and was a technical advisor to the HBO show Silicon Valley.