We have come a long way since blockchain and bitcoin went live in 2009. It has been a thrilling roller coaster ride, and many people have contributed to the development of the novel space. We handpicked the top 10.
Note: While Satoshi Nakamoto is the Father of Cryptocurrency, we are not listing his name here because it’s a pseudonym. And we don’t know the exact name(s) behind it.
1. Nick Szabo
Nick Szabo is a computer scientist, legal scholar, cryptographer. In 1998, Szabo designed a mechanism for a decentralized digital currency. The mechanism was termed “bit gold.” It was regarded as a direct precursor to the Bitcoin architecture. But he did not stop there. Eventually, Szabo coined the idea of smart contracts. He wanted to bring “highly evolved” practices of contract law and practice to the design of electronic commerce protocols between strangers on the Internet.
Szabo is considered as one of the few people in the whole world who has the sheer breadth and knowledge of Bitcoin architecture. However, Szabo has denied any claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto.
2. Vitalik Buterin
Vitalik Buterin is a 26 years old Russian-Canadian programmer and the “boy genius” behind Ethereum. He learned about Bitcoin from his father in 2011. To sustain his passion, Buterin joined a bitcoin blog. Later, he co-founded the Bitcoin Magazine.
Buterin realized that Bitcoin needed a scripting language for application development. Failing to gain agreement with the then Bitcoin community, he proposed the development of a new platform with a more general scripting language.
In 2013, Buterin released the Ethereum white paper. It documented a new open-source protocol for creating decentralized applications. Ethereum was officially announced on the Bitcointalk forum in 2014.
Vitalik has also co-authored a few books about blockchain technology and bitcoin. He is one of the most recognized people and has achieved superstar status in the cryptocurrency space.
3. Andreas M. Antonopoulos
Andreas M. Antonopoulos is considered as one of the world’s top bitcoin and open blockchain experts. He is a best-selling cryptocurrency author, speaker, and educator. Antonopoulos’ groundbreaking book “Mastering Bitcoin” is widely considered to be one of the best guides written about blockchain technology and Bitcoin. His other books include:
- Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain
- Building Smart Contracts and DApps
- Antonopoulos, The Internet of Money (Volume 1)
- Antonopoulos, The Internet of Money (Volume 2)
He has been interviewed by the BBC, Bloomberg Business, CNN, The Economist, Forbes, and Motherboard/VICE. He also hosts the popular podcast “Let’s Talk Bitcoin.”
4. Dan Larimer
Dan Larimer is one of the most prominent names in the cryptocurrency industry. Larimer is an alumnus of the Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science. He created the cryptocurrency platform BitShares, co-founded the blockchain Steem, and is currently CTO of Block.one.
At Block.one, he is responsible for the architecture of EOSIO software, which is engineered to run highly scalable blockchain applications. To remind, EOS famously raised $4 billion in an ICO.
Larimer also founded Cryptonomex Inc., a blockchain technology consulting business. Larimer is the creator of the DPOS (Delegated Proof of Stake Algorithm) consensus algorithm and Graphene technology.
5. Charles Hoskinson
Charles Hoskinson is an American entrepreneur and cryptocurrency specialist. He is an Ethereum (ETH) co-founder, founder of Cardano (ADA), CEO of IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong). Hoskinson also established the Cryptocurrency Research Group and served as the founding chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation’s education committee. He is a director of the Bitcoin Education Project since 2013.
In March 2015, Hoskinson co-founded IOHK. IOHK has made significant contributions to the field of research on Generation 3.0 blockchains. IOHK commits to use peer-to-peer innovations to provide financial services to the three billion people who do not have them. IOHK’s flagship product is Cardano. Cardano addresses the problems of scalability, interoperability, and security using a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm called Ouroboros.
6. Jed McCaleb
Jed McCaleb’s contribution to consensus architecture has been immense. He is the co-founder and the CTO of Stellar. McCaleb is also the co-founder of Ripple and its ex CTO. And he created Mt. Gox as well as the peer-to-peer eDonkey and Overnet networks.
Besides, McCaleb launched Lightyear.io as the commercial arm of the Stellar network. It facilitates Stellar becoming a global payment and currency exchange initially directed at the developing world. Lightyear has partnered with IBM to launch blockchain banking in the South Pacific using Stellar’s Lumen currency. Lightyear later merged with Chain.com to create a new entity named InterStellar. The New York Times named McCaleb one of the top 10 people leading the blockchain revolution in 2018.
7. Éric Larchevêque
The name ‘cryptocurrency hardware wallet’ is synonymous with Ledger, and Éric Larchevêque, a French entrepreneur, is its founder.
The man loves BTC and even opened La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris. It is a physical space that aims to explain the technologies related to Blockchain and Bitcoin. During a hackathon organized at the Maison du Bitcoin in June 2014, he met Joël Pobeda (director of Chronocoin) and Nicolas Bacca (director of BTChip) with whom he partnered to create Ledger. Ledger hardware wallets empower a person with the ownership and control of his own private keys. The product combines a Secure Element with a proprietary OS.
In 2018, after very strong growth in its results, Ledger raised 61 million euros.
8. Witek Radomski
Witek Radomski is the co-founder and CTO of Enjin Coin. He is credited to have developed both ERC-721 and ERC-1155 standards of Ethereum. These new standards defined video game tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.
Radomski created code for the first non-fungible token in 2017. It, in turn, led to the creation of the ERC-721 token standard for blockchain-based gaming and digital art. Radomski took this to the next level with the introduction of ERC-1155. ERC-1155 is a standard interface for contracts that manage multiple token types.
For nearly a decade, Witek has overseen the technical engineering of Enjin. He champions best-practices in software design, security, and testing, and leads Enjin Coin development, implementation and integration.
9. Changpeng Zhao
Changpeng Zhao (CZ) is a Chinese-Canadian business executive. He is the founder and CEO of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance. It has the most outreach and provides the best liquidity in the current cryptocurrency market.
Zhao was previously involved in the development of Blockchain.info and also served as chief technology officer of OKCoin. Zhao launched Binance in July 2017. Binance raised $15 million during its initial coin offering. In less than eight months, Zhao grew Binance into the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume.
10. Gavin Andersen
Gavin Andersen is a controversial but respected figure. Satoshi Nakamoto nominated him as the lead developer of the reference implementation for bitcoin client software. Andersen founded the Bitcoin Foundation to support and nurture the development of the bitcoin currency.
He also held the Bitcoin fort in the initial few years. However, he has not contributed to Bitcoin Core since February 2016. Besides, he raised controversy by supporting Bitcoin Cash and dismissing Bitcoin. Eventually, his Bitcoin Core Github access was revoked.
Still, he remains a pioneer without whom Bitcoin would not be the same.