One of the earliest bitcoin developer is to make his first public appearance in more than two years tomorrow at 2PM London time with the holding of an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session.
Mike Hearn joined bitcoin development sometime in 2010 during his 20% spare time while working at Google as an engineer.
He conversed with Nakamoto and revealed last August a number of new e-mails from Satoshi Nakamoto that were previously not public.
He also built BitcoinJ and is credited with building SPV wallets which now allow millions to transact with bitcoin through their smart-phones.
As a coder, he is respected by all bitcoiners across crypto-spectrums, but disagreements arose over the blocksize matter.
Mike Hearn was one of the most vocal supporter of bigger blocks, yet, like Gavin Andresen, he had mis-calculated or, his opponents would say, misjudged.
The most epic “battle” in the crypto-space and perhaps all of open source was opened on the mailing-list announcement of the white-paper itself.
But it is not until 2013 when bitcoin developers go to the great war of ideas. Technical aspects were one thing. Political campaigning was another.
Peter Todd, in particular, portrayed Hearn, or implied, or hinted, that he is some centralizing figure of sorts, or some agent, or that he wants to weaken privacy, or implement surveillance, or anything bad.
The other side responded by leaking Todd’s emails, and by giving him the nickname of Toddler, but Todd, or his side, had been more effective.
The blocksize debate was decided sometime in late 2015, early 2016. Early in 2015 a plan was announced by Gavin Andresen to increase the blocksize to initially 8MB, then doubling every 2 years until 8GB in two decades.
Andresen, however, had not spoken to miners, who then as now were mostly concentrated in China. Why, remains unclear, but miners might benefit from limited capacity in the hope of higher fees, therefore he may have thought it more important to get the backing of businesses.
There, he had almost unanimous approval. Yet, to miners the matter had now arrived in late 2015. One of them said 8GB was far too much.
What he was happy with was an initial 4MB, doubling every four years until 32 MB. XT is XT Hearn effectively said at the time. If they want different parameters they should get their own coders and their own client.
The miner said even if Hearn agreed to that doubling 4 year plan, the miner would not agree to any client from Hearn, it had to come from Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Core only.
A few weeks later miners signed an agreement binding themselves to the Bitcoin Core client. A few weeks before that Hearn declared bitcoin had failed.
The questions here, for Hearn in this context but in general, are many. The main one might be: were the persuasiveness of the arguments from the other side under-estimated?
Why was sharding never mentioned during the entire debate? Does he think it can work and it can be implemented in bitcoin?
What does he think of the role miners played in binding themselves to Bitcoin Core?
But with all that being history, a more interesting question might perhaps be what he thinks of the ultimate conclusion to the debate? That being the August 1st fork.
Can Bitcoin Cash compete in the free market, giving people the free choice, and even perhaps overtake Bitcoin Core in his view, or at least be a viable and interesting project just as the bitcoin he wanted?
Or, asked differently, will he now contribute to the bitcoin he wanted and loudly argued for, to the bitcoin that is operating with a market cap as high as, if not higher than, the bitcoin he left?
Because if he does truly believe in a peer to peer currency that can easily scale, then there is no reason why the two teams should not compete with code and send words to the archive files for historians or, indeed, the blockbuster producers.
As the bitcoin movie does not end until it ends. For now, it looks to us like it has just begun. Welcome back Mike Hear. If not fully, then in making a public appearance.