On September 9, 2011 Gavin Andresen published a post on bitcointalk.org about “alternative blockchains”.
Andresen is a very famous developer in the crypto world because he was the main developer of Bitcoin, after the departure of founder Satoshi Nakamoto.
Gavin Andersen and the alternative blockchains
Andresen discovered Bitcoin in 2010, the year after its launch, and was the main maintainer of Bitcoin Core until 2014.
In 2012 he created the Bitcoin Foundation.
In September 2011, not even Litecoin, the main early altcoin that still exists and is fully functional today, existed and there were still very few alternative blockchain projects to Bitcoin.
In the post published on bitcointalk.org, Andresen addressed the topic of the security of alternative blockchain, which was then only of interest to a very small niche of people.
At the time, Satoshi had been out of the picture for almost a year, and alternative projects were beginning to be released, such as Litecoin, which came out the following month.
Andresen made it clear that he was concerned about the way these alternative projects were being released on the market, calling them effectively insecure.
“But I think some of you might be forgetting some basic computer security fundamentals in the excitement to be early adopters”
Extending the reasoning beyond the purely computer-related aspects, Andresen’s caution at the time is still absolutely advisable today.
Satoshi’s whitepaper and the Bitcoin Core
What he advised was to take the same approach to altcoins as when first encountering Bitcoin.
For example, he first asked himself whether it would work on a technical level, then whether it was a scam, and then whether running the relevant software would bring him problems.
For Bitcoin he said he tried to understand Satoshi’s whitepaper, think about it and read it again, find out everything he could about the project, download and analyze the source code of Bitcoin Core (which was still called just Bitcoin at the time), to see if it could be trusted.
At this point he wrote:
“If I were going to experiment with an alternative block-chain, I’d go through the same process again”.
Even back then, when no real altcoin existed, he suggested being extremely cautious when approaching an alternative blockchain to Bitcoin. This advice is still absolutely valid today.
He also advised not to invest more money or time than one can afford to lose, which is the same advice that is still given to those approaching new crypto projects ten years later.
It is worth noting that Ethereum, for example, was launched in 2015, a full four years after this post by Gavin Andresen.