The Bitcoin-focused investment group, New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG), released a report in September examining how Bitcoin’s protocol has managed to attract such wide adoption despite its tiny developer ecosystem.
Here are the highlights:
The network, which launched in early January 2009, has only 40-60 monthly active developers, according to the report.
This is not a static bunch. 1,140 developers have contributed to Bitcoin over its lifetime, with 5 to 10 new monthly active developers arriving each month, while others cycle out or scale back activity.
Roughly 84% of Bitcoin Core’s suggested software changes on GitHub come from devs in 20 different countries. However, NYDIG noted that most development appears to occur in the United States and Europe.
Over half of Bitcoin Core code commits in 2021 came from developers that joined the ecosystem after the 2017 bull market cycle.
Bitcoin Core has historically had someone serve as a lead maintainer to cryptographically sign off on new protocol changes. This way, users downloading the software could verify that they weren’t installing malicious code.
However, as of September 2021, the lead maintainer role was abolished in favor of a more egalitarian model whereby a group of maintainers (12 at present) signs off on new changes. “This group will likely vary going forward,” said NYDIG.
Earlier this year, Gloria Zhao became the first known female maintainer of Bitcoin.
Beyond Bitcoin’s core protocol, its “broader ecosystem” has attracted 600-1000 monthly active developers, with over 13,000 in total. This number is generally increasing over time, although it appears to have some correlation with Bitcoin’s halving cycles.
“The ecosystem of applications and developers continues to grow, with contributions coming from around the world, expanding Bitcoin’s reach as a global monetary system,” concluded NYDIG.