Ethereum Classic Quickstart

This article will answer some basic questions on Ethereum Classic. Its main purpose is to give you a quick overview of the project. I’m not affiliated in any way with Ethereum Classic, so I try to be as unbiased as I can.

What is Ethereum Classic?

Ethereum Classic is an open-source proof-of-work blockchain and distributed computing platform that allows the execution of smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps) on a public Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

What is the Difference Between Ethereum Classic and Ethereum?

Ethereum is a hard fork of Ethereum Classic. These are two different Blockchain projects with different developers, features, philosophies, and dApp ecosystems.

The less popular Ethereum Classic contains the original, unmodified history of the Ethereum Blockchain, whereas the more well-known Ethereum Blockchain emerged as a hard fork that redistributed the “stolen” tokens after the DAO hack in 2016.

Most influential developers and institutions, as well as Ethereum’s founder Vitalik Buterin supported the new Ethereum blockchain and explicitly recommended miners to NOT support the Ethereum Classic Blockchain.

The main differences between the two are as follows:

  • Ethereum Classic is much smaller than Ethereum in regards to almost all metrics such as market cap, transaction volume, number of validators, total locked value, and number of dApps that run on top of the Blockchain.
  • Ethereum Classic‘s philosophy is “Code is Law”, i.e., even if there is a smart contract hack, the state of the Blockchain is never reverted. This is in contrast to Ethereum’s philosophy of “rapid change” and regular hard forks if the “Layer 0”, i.e., the people running the Blockchain agree to the changes. You could think of it as “Consensus through PoW” vs “Consensus through People”.
  • Ethereum Classic has an upper maximum supply of 210,700,000 ETC tokens, whereas Ethereum (ETH) has no max supply.
  • Ethereum Classic runs a proof of work (PoW) consensus algorithm, whereas Ethereum runs a proof of stake (PoS) consensus algorithm.
Comparison table: ETH vs ETC (source)

What is the DAO Hack?

The DAO was a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) launched in 2016 on the Ethereum blockchain. After collecting almost 15% of all ETH through a token sale, The DAO was hacked due to a vulnerability in the smart contract.

  • Ethereum is the Blockchain that emerged when reversing the state of the chain to before the hack, i.e., rewriting history. Code is Not Law.
  • Ethereum Classic is the Blockchain that emerged from just leaving the hack unchanged, i.e., not rewriting history. Code is Law.

A great video on the DAO hack in 2016 is given here:

Are There Any dApps on Ethereum Classic?

The Ethereum Classic Blockchain is Turing Complete, i.e., you can run arbitrary smart contract code on it. Thus, Ethereum Classic supports decentralized apps (dApps) that issue their own tokens and NFTs.

While there are many dApps on Ethereum Classic, the dApp ecosystem is by orders of magnitude smaller than the Ethereum dApp ecosystem due to the lack of broad developer support.

πŸ“² Statistics: For example, DappRadar lists 3425 Ethereum dApps but not a single dApp for Ethereum Classic. On the Ethereum Classic web page itself, there are only 34 dApps listed. Now, that’s two orders of magnitude fewer dApps for Ethereum Classic when compared to Ethereum!

Figure: That’s about it regarding dApps on Ethereum Classic at the point of this writing.

How to Create a dApp for Ethereum Classic?

Programming Smart Contracts on Ethereum Classic is identical to how it is done on ETH, as ETC maintains compatibility with the Ethereum EVM. Any contract written for Ethereum can be deployed to ETC.

To create a dapp for Ethereum Classic you must program one in a smart contract programming language. Then, you must compile that dapp and install it on the blockchain from a funded account.

From the official documentation.

πŸ’‘ So, you can create a decentralized application on Ethereum Classic using Solidity or any other programming language that is able to be compiled against the EVM.

Does Ethereum Classic Have a Future?

Ethereum Classic has much less developer activity than many other Blockchain projects such as Ethereum or Solana. Given the strong developer network effects of bigger Blockchains, i.e., developers are more likely to go to the “meaningful” Blockchain projects which make them even more meaningful, many people are led to believe that Ethereum Classic doesn’t have a rosy future.

I agree with the network effects argument. However, when diving into the project, I discovered some interesting arguments that speak for Ethereum Classic:

  1. Proof of work smart contract blockchain
  2. Open system
  3. Permissionless
  4. Bitcoin philosophy
  5. Hedge against ETH failure

Let’s dive into each of them one by one.

Proof of work smart contract blockchain

First, Ethereum Classic will be the largest proof of work smart contract Blockchain after the “Merge”, i.e., Ethereum’s move to a proof of stake consensus algorithm. This gives Ethereum Classic a unique and robust positioning in the market for decades to come.

Open system design

Second, Ethereum Classic is an open system, whereas Ethereum is a closed system (like all PoS Blockchains). This may make Ethereum Classic more robust against corruption and capturing of the Blockchain. For example, you could argue that Ethereum is already captured by the current token holders. Ethereum Classic is an open PoW system, so the current majority of computing power doesn’t control Ethereum Classic forever. One could always add more mining devices from outside the system.


Third, Ethereum Classic is permissionless, whereas Ethereum is permissioned. You cannot contribute to the consensus algorithm of the Ethereum network without buying a stake from an insider, i.e., asking them for permission. If the majority of token holders are not willing to sell ETH to you, you can never start a “revolution”, i.e., taking over control from the centralized controlling entity or entities. Once a PoS chain is captured by centralized entities, it is very hard to take it over to decentralize it again. However, this is possible in a PoW system.

Bitcoin philosophy

Fourth, Ethereum Classic’s design philosophy is much closer to Bitcoin’s. Code is Law. Few changes. Decentralization over scalability. Maximum token supply and sound money properties. Proof of work security. Thus, even though the project is much smaller than Ethereum and Ethereum Classic has been subject to 51% attacks in the past, it has proven to be extremely robust organism, like Bitcoin, and many people subscribing to the Bitcoin philosophy may also subscribe to the ETC philosophy.

Hedge against ETH failure

Fifth, Ethereum Classic will be used as a “hedge” against the failure of Ethereum in the decades to come. While I believe in the philosophy of Ethereum, it is not at all guaranteed that they will make it against the powerful centralization forces (and I don’t like the fact that it’s a closed, i.e., fragile, system). To hedge against those potentially low-probability failure cases of Ethereum, one could buy some Ethereum Classic tokens (no financial advise).

Thanks for taking the time to read this article! ❀️

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