⛓️ Blockchain 101

Blockchain basics for developer topics.

This is Alchemy API's comprehensive guide to getting familiar with blockchain. There are tons of articles out there now, but this is a curated reading list (plus a few videos). We will cover blockchain basics from both technical and contextual perspectives.

1. Bitcoin

Start with bitcoin since it is the first blockchain and has a succinct white paper. Read the white paper and watch this video. After watching the video, go back and read the white paper again. It should make more sense the second time.

2. Ethereum

Next jump into Ethereum. At a high level, Ethereum is like bitcoin, but instead of just payments, the blocks can store and execute smart-contracts (programmable contracts). Read and watch the following, multiple times if necessary.

Ethereum 2.0: As more and more transactions are added to the blockchain, how can Ethereum scale? These articles explore scalability in layer 1 (things like sharding or Proof of Stake rather than Proof of Work) and layer 2 (things like off chains).

3. Why is Blockchain Important?

Now that you have a basic understanding of blockchain, read these articles about why blockchain matters, current use cases, and future implications.

4. Ethereum Block Details

For block details and blockchain mechanics, here are a few important concepts to grasp:

  1. Ethereum is turing complete while bitcoin is not. In brief, we are used to programming languages that are Turing Complete, and can be programmed to solve any computational problem given enough time and space. Before most computer languages were turing complete, machines were not able to solve multiple computational problems - ie a machine can add, but not multiply. This is the most significant difference between Ethereum and Bitcoin, in that the Ethereum blockchain can be used for smart contracts since it is programmable.

  2. Merkle Trees are the data structure of blocks on the blockchain. The key point is that its very fast/efficient to check if a transaction/block is true, although more computationally intensive to write. Read this piece on Merkle Trees and watch this video​

  3. ​What's in a block?​

5. Developer Reading: for both technical and non-technical folks

  1. ​Tools summary​

6. Cool Projects in the Space

The blockchain space has seen a lot increasingly more action. We, Alchemy API, act as as blockchain infrastructure provider amongst other things, and work with a lot of cool projects that are built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Here are some of our customers and links to their platforms.

We want to keep this as current as possible. Please reach out with suggestions and follow us on Twitter @AlchemyPlatform!