In brief

  • Bitcoin core had 510 commits in April alone.
  • This is the most amount of commits in a single month.
  • There are over 800 contributors to the protocol.

Bitcoin’s developers have been incredibly busy in the weeks leading up to the Bitcoin halving. 

In April alone, Bitcoin Core had 510 commits, more than in any other month since Bitcoin began. A Bitcoin commit means that code is uploaded to Github, a popular website for hosting open-source coding projects, where Bitcoin’s code is hosted.

Only a few months have come close; in April 2018, and in October and November 2019, when there were over 400 commits per month.

Bitcoin Core is the most common software used for running the Bitcoin blockchain. It’s often referred to as the standard for the Bitcoin blockchain; it’s the one published by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s creator, and it’s still worked on today. 

Development of Bitcoin Core is in part funded by MIT’s Digital Currency initiative. Though some people work on it full-time, almost anyone with relevant experience can get involved. According to GitGitLog, there are over 800 total contributors to Bitcoin core. 

It is unclear why there were so many commits in April. One Redditor, the pseudonymous “Amichateur,” suggests that it’s due to the coronavirus lockdown: “programmers [are] lacking other distractions,” they say. 

Another obvious answer would be that developers are rushing to ready Bitcoin’s code for the upcoming Bitcoin halving, where miners will receive half the block rewards for validating new blocks on the Bitcoin blockchain. 

The feature, hardcoded in Bitcoin’s protocol, occurs every four years. The current halving is slated to occur on Tuesday. But five days into May, Bitcoin commits have slowed; there have been only 10 commits this month so far. Perhaps the halving is too distracting.

In March, the code for Bitcoin Core was made available on the dark web. This was to make development on Bitcoin censorship-resistant. Bitcoin, which is decentralized, has sparked (wholly legitimate) concerns that it could be used for money laundering and terrorist financing. So it’s not unthinkable that governments could prevent their citizens from working on it. Considering that developers are busier than ever, it’s going to be hard to stop them. 

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