Cardano’s development is guided by a methodical, research-based, and deliberate approach to innovation. Over five development phases, IOG introduced innovations, new functionality, and novel features, with each phase building upon the previous phase's achievements.
This paper has been written by Fernando Sanchez and Olga Hryniuk with input from all IOG teams.
Toil without song is like a weary journey without an end
Since Cardano’s first iteration as a federated network of just seven nodes, Input Output Global Inc. (IOG) has added many new pieces to the blockchain design, one at a time. Over five development phases, IOG introduced innovations, new functionality, and novel features, with each phase building upon the previous phase's achievements.
Every addition has improved or enhanced Cardano in one way or another. Some features, like smart contracts, are highly visible. Others, such as pipelining or block diffusion, are more subtle but no less impactful. And each new feature brings Cardano one step closer to becoming a leading, robust, and reliable enterprise-grade blockchain.
Rationale for this paper
Today, Cardano is a third generation, open source, proof-of-stake blockchain platform. Its name derives from Gerolamo Cardano, a mid-16th century Italian physician and mathematician. Third generation blockchain platforms are designed to resolve the issues that the first two generations (Bitcoin and Ethereum) suffer from, including scalability and interoperability, while fulfilling an ambitious agenda of decentralization.
But how did IOG, the blockchain engineering company that designed and built Cardano from the ground up, achieve this?
This paper highlights the importance and impact of the research and development driven by IOG since the inception of the Cardano mainnet.
Structure of this paper
For clarity and completeness, the structure of this paper matches Cardano's journey. From the initial, foundational steps taken during Byron in 2017 to the delivery of a self-governed, self-sustained, fully decentralized blockchain during Voltaire in 2022.
In keeping with this narrative, this paper includes five chapters:
Each chapter focuses on a single phase, recounting its achievements and defining its bearing and importance on the overarching development journey.