Dogecoin is a parody cryptocurrency created by Adobe Systems employee Jackson Palmer and programmer Billy Markus in 2013. Its name is derived from the “Doge” meme, whose many iterations usually feature a Shiba Inu dog surrounded by Comic Sans text.

The meme gained popularity in 2013 and dogecoin was introduced in December of that year. Palmer has said he wanted dogecoin to draw positive attention to cryptocurrency and to encourage innovations with the technology by making it accessible and appealing to new users.

The open-source protocol is a fork of the luckycoin blockchain, which means that the original dogecoin developers created a copy of the luckycoin source code and modified that source code according to their own preferences. Luckycoin is a fork of litecoin, which is itself a fork of bitcoin.

Dogecoin was written in the C++ programming language, the same as bitcoin. According to the dogecoin website, the cryptocurrency is often used to tip internet users who create or share digital content. Its market capitalization exceeded $1 billion in 2018 and Elon Musk once declared dogecoin his favorite cryptocurrency.

Dogecoin’s developers have been largely inactive for several years. In 2015, Palmer announced that he would take an “extended leave of absence” from the cryptocurrency community, calling the community “toxic” and criticizing it for being “white male dominated” and marred by “buzzword-filled business ideas.”

He left the protocol’s development in the hands of a team of select community members. 

How does dogecoin work?

Vision

Similar to bitcoin, dogecoin was designed to be a type of currency (albeit not a serious one); it is not Turing complete or capable of facilitating smart contracts like ethereum. 

Dogecoin is often used to tip internet users who create or share digital content. Its market capitalization exceeded $1 billion in 2018. 

Launch & issuance

Dogecoin was launched in December of 2013. At the time none of the cryptocurrency’s supply was set aside to incentivize the founders. The software was made immediately available for use, and those who wanted to mine the cryptocurrency were able to compete for rewards.

Network design & security model

As mentioned, dogecoin is a fork of the luckycoin blockchain. The developers were able to copy the Luckycoin software because it is an open-source protocol — anyone is free to use, study, change, and share it. 

Luckycoin is a fork of litecoin, which itself is a fork of bitcoin. And like bitcoin, dogecoin is an open-source, decentralized peer-to-peer network that utilizes a proof-of-work consensus algorithm. The network therefore relies on miners to validate transactions and secure the network from bad actors who would seek to manipulate the blockchain’s record of transactions.

Unlike bitcoin, however, dogecoin uses the scrypt mining algorithm, which has lower hashrates and uses less energy than bitcoin’s SHA-256 mining algorithm. 

Monetary policy

The total possible supply of dogecoin was originally capped at 100 billion coins, and the value of block rewards (which miners receive for validating transactions) was set to halve every 100,000 blocks until block 600,000 was mined. At this block, the reward became fixed at 10,000 dogecoin per block. 

However, in early 2014 developers decided to make dogecoin an inflationary currency rather than a deflationary currency like bitcoin, and eliminated the cap on its supply. The network’s block reward remained 10,000 dogecoin per block.

Because dogecoin’s hard supply cap was removed, the price of the coins began to decline and the incentive for miners to mine the coin diminished. The network’s hashrate — a unit used to measure the processing power of a proof-of-work network — declined throughout 2014 and the dogecoin community became concerned that it could be susceptible to a “51 percent attack.”

This term refers to the possibility that a miner or mining pool could take control of more than half of a blockchain’s power, which would make it possible for them to prevent other network participants from carrying out transactions or creating blocks.

In secure networks with many miners (like bitcoin) these attacks are unlikely because the cost of the amount of power it would take to control 51 percent of the network would be prohibitively expensive. However, in networks with fewer miners, such an attack would be less expensive and more probable.

To attempt to prevent an attack on the dogecoin network, developers decided to enable “merge mining” or “auxiliary proof-of-work” which allowed dogecoin to receive “work” from other scrypt-based blockchains — specifically litecoin.

Merge mining allows miners to contribute work to two chains at once and compete for both rewards. So it is possible to mine both dogecoin and litecoin simultaneously.

Transaction processing

Dogecoin’s block time is approximately 1 minute — significantly faster than bitcoin’s average of 10 minutes.

Coding

Dogecoin was written in C++ (the same programming language that bitcoin was written in). The protocol is licensed under the open source MIT license which permits without restriction the copying, modification, publication, distribution, sublicensing, and selling of copies of the protocol.