Cardano Eras

4 min readJan 10, 2021



Cardano’s first incarnation allowed users to buy and sell the Ada cryptocurrency, named after the revolutionary programmer Ada Lovelace, in a federated network running the revolutionary consensus protocol Ouroboros. The heart of the Cardano network, Ouroboros is the first participation test protocol created on the basis of academic research, with a mathematically proven level of security. The Byron era also saw the delivery of the Daedalus wallet, the official IOHK desk wallet for ada, as well as Yoroi, a lightweight wallet from IOHK’s sister company, Emurgo, designed for fast transactions and daily use.


The Shelley era encompasses the first critical steps in Cardano’s journey to optimize decentralization and, like any first step, these will be gradual but significant. During the Byron era, the network was federated, but as the Shelley era progresses, more and more nodes will be managed by the Cardano community. Once most of the nodes are run by network participants, Cardano will be more decentralized and, as a result, will enjoy greater security and strength.

Shelley will also see the introduction of a delegation and incentive scheme, a reward system to encourage stakeholder and community adoption. As a trial network for participation, users will bet their ada to participate in the network. Carefully designed using game theory and the latest research on participation testing networks, the delegation and incentive scheme will allow and encourage users to delegate their participation to stakeholders (always active and community-managed network nodes) and be rewarded for being honest. participation in the network.


The work for Goguen has been carried out in parallel with Shelley and, when complete, will allow users with technical and non-technical backgrounds to create and execute functional intelligent contracts on the Cardano network. One of the goals of the Goguen era has been the creation of Plutus, a specially designed intelligent contract development and execution language that uses the Haskell functional programming language. The Goguen era also encompasses work to make Cardano accessible to a wider audience through Marlowe, enabling financial and business experts without prior technical knowledge to create intelligent contracts.


The Basho de Cardano era is an era of optimization, improving the scalability and interoperability of the network. Basho seeks to improve the underlying performance of the Cardano network to better support the growth and adoption of high transaction volume applications.

One of Basho’s core developments will be the introduction of side chains: new block chains, interoperable with the main Cardano chain, with immense potential to expand network capabilities. Side chains can be used as a fragmentation mechanism by offloading the work of the main chain to a side chain in order to increase network capacity. They can also be used to introduce experimental functions without affecting the safety of the main block chain.

Basho will also see the introduction of parallel accounting styles. While the Cardano main block chain will continue to use a UTXO model, the ability to support and switch between UTXO and account based models using side chains will be added. The result will be increased interoperability for Cardano, as well as the ability to support new types of use cases on the network.


The Voltaire era of Cardano will provide the final pieces necessary for the Cardano network to become a self-sufficient system. With the introduction of a voting and treasury system, network participants will be able to use their participation and voting rights to influence the future development of the network.

The Voltaire era will add the ability for network participants to submit proposals for Cardano improvements that can be voted on by stakeholders, building on the already existing process of participation and delegation.

To fund the future development of the network, Voltaire will also see the addition of a treasury system, whereby a fraction of all transaction fees will be combined to provide funds for development activities undertaken after the voting process.

When a voting and treasury system is established, Cardano will be truly decentralized and no longer under the administration of the IOHK. Instead, Cardano’s future will be in the hands of the community.

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