There is an interesting thread from Cake Wallet about Monero’s history.
Monero (then Bitmonero) started in 2014 on its own, fresh blockchain. It was a fair launch of the dubiously-launched Bytecoin code. Monero had no premine and no founders reward.
Instead, the drama came from the original founder thankful_for_today eventually suggesting unpopular changes, such as being merge mined with Bytecoin. Since the whole point of Monero was to distance the code from this scammy project, people were unhappy.
Enter the Monero Core Team. They forked the project from thankful_for_today with new releases. Nearly everyone agreed with their vision, so the community followed. thankful_for_today continued making their own releases, but they stopped shortly after due to lack of interest.
The Monero Core Team inherited poorly commented code that was unlike any other cryptocurrency project’s. It took many months of effort just to figure out how the code worked. It was worth learning though, since the code did some amazing things that no other project did.
Fluffy Pony solicited the help of some of the brightest and most curious minds to create the Monero Research Lab. MRL commented the CryptoNote whitepaper and evaluated some of the most important privacy limitations. Luigi1111 wrote about Monero’s cryptography and designed tools.
Surae Noether (Brandon Goodell) described the CryptoNote whitepaper in his review as follows; “The protocol looks secure and tight.” We think it looks secure and tight too!
The first MRL paper was released in September 2014. It focused on chain reactions, or the idea that one attacker could try to spam outputs to deanonymize the true source of funds in ring signatures. Many, many research papers have focused on this since.
Monero moved forward with an important privacy advancement in March 2016, when it set a network minimum ringsize of 3. Before then, one could effectively “opt-out” of ring signature protections, which many exchanges and mining pools did.
Equally important was the adoption of RingCT to hide output amounts in January 2017. Before then, outputs were denominated (like CoinJoin pools), which offered FAR worse privacy. Adoption was swift; it was adopted in >50% of transactions in the first month.
RingCT was necessary for privacy, but transactions were chunky and slow. Luckily, Bulletproofs were discovered and enhanced to improve RingCT. In October 2018, Monero was able to increase its (now mandatory) ringsize to 11 while still reducing transaction sizes by several kB.
2017 was also important, because it was the first year Monero had an official GUI! It was also the first year Monero was available on mobile wallets. Cake Wallet was the first Monero wallet for iOS in January 2018 (we are now also on android).
JEhrenhofer, Sarang Noether, and Brandon Goodell started a series that critically looked at Monero’s limitations and explained them simply, called Breaking Monero. It was a smashing success and is an obvious example of the Monero community’s openness.
Monero was part of DEF CON 26, where the community organized the Monero / BCOS Village. The Monero community planned DEF CON Monero or Cryptocurrency Villages the next 3 years. That year’s Monero Party even made the news.
Brandon Goodell organized the first (and still only, yay COVID) Monero Konferenco academic conference in June 2019.
Monero was a part of the Chaos Communication Congress’s Critical Decentralization Cluster. Dr. Daniel Kim made an infamous Monero talk there that was immortalized in the #1 movie in the United States for 2 glorious days: Monero Means Money!
There are too many other improvements to note, but some of them are LMDB, CLSAG, Dandelion++, 0MQ, Fluffy (Compact) Blocks, CN-R, Tor and i2p compatibility, p2pool, RandomX, dynamic block size and fees, tail emission, spent output tooling, multisig, BTCPayServer integration,
Now on to the big stuff: How has Monero changed the world?
Monero has represented the cryptocurrency space’s leading privacy project since inception. No other project has been repeatedly trusted with as many transactions, for as long, with as sensitive details. Ever. And there are no signs that will change.
No other project has consistently shown that it can iterate and improve with an entirely community-focused ethos. Monero has been on the front lines of this privacy battle its whole life, and its community has learned a thing or two about how to respond to privacy threats.
Monero has more private transactions than all cryptocurrencies combined. That includes all other privacy coins, and all privacy feature adoption on Bitcoin and Ethereum. It’s not even close.
No other major project has successfully brought miners, exchanges, and market makers under its privacy wing. Networks need to include these to prevent different “types” of funds.
No other project has truly fungible money, where 1 XMR = 1 XMR. People don’t need to worry about different pools of funds, or different company policies. Monero is Monero, money is money. Simple. The way it should be.
Monero has already succeeded in setting a privacy implementation gold standard. Monero is the world’s leading private digital payment option. It has already changed the world for the better, as we at Cake Wallet are thrilled be a part of it!
Where does Monero go from here?
First things first: efficiency. Bulletproofs+ and view tags make transactions smaller, faster to verify, and faster to scan. These are largely ready to go.
Of course, privacy isn’t going away. It’s only getting better. The largest ever absolute ringsize increase this next update? Seraphis and Lelantus Spark research looking promising for realistic ringsizes up to 128?
Whatever magical cryptography breakthroughs come in the next few years, the Monero community has shown that they are willing and able to sensibly incorporate them into the Monero protocol.
Finally, people are catching on to Monero’s usefulness. Monero is the most obvious asset to consider in many cases since it is the only trusted fungible asset. Obviously, people wish to trade with fungible assets. And that has created an insatiable user demand for Monero.
The focus on atomic swaps is incredible. Comit network’s BTC<>XMR atomic swaps are live today. Farcaster’s are coming soon now that Bitcoin has activated Taproot. Community members have already begun working on ETH<>XMR atomic swaps. Development and interest have exploded.
HavenoDEX inches closer and closer to a proper Bisq replacement that you actually want to use. Monero ATMs are popping up faster than ever, and that’s before LamassuBTC has even enabled XMR on their machines.