The past 12 months have seen a veritable explosion in the number of alternative digital currencies, otherwise known as altcoins.
The numbers for exactly how many altcoins are in existence vary depending on the measure. CoinMarketCap.com lists 554 cryptocurrencies at the time of writing – up from around 67 a year ago.
According to some estimates, however, thousands of altcoins have seen some level of circulation since the bitcoin protocol first became available for use and adaptation.
Many altcoins set out with legitimate uses, strong communities and active development teams. Some have descended into parody, with collapsed values and eerily quiet forum pages. Yet others were heavily pre-mined scams, or joke coins that never seriously aimed to have a real future as a digital currency.
One could argue which altcoin is the most innovative, the most noteworthy or the most notorious of 2014 until you were blue in the face. And many altcoin fans love to do just that. It's perhaps more fun, though, to take a look at some of the more unusual coins we encountered in the past 12 months.
In that spirit, here are some of the weirdest altcoins that appeared in 2014.
When the Ukrainian government led by Viktor Yanukovich collapsed in February, the presidential palace Yanukovich resided in at the time was seized by protestors and its contents made known to the world.
Those who took over the grounds quickly found that the now-ex president possessed a vast collection of antique cars, crystal-encrusted chandeliers, incriminating documents and a full-size replica Spanish galleon.
What they also found was a 2kg piece of gold shaped like a loaf of bread, an object that briefly became the focus of media attention and speculation.
Some months later, the now-infamous golden loaf served as the inspiration for the aptly named goldenloaf (sign: GLY) altcoin, which also circulated under the name goldenloafyanukovichcoin.
As explained in the alt’s Bitcoin Talk thread, GLY ostensibly tied its value to the loaf’s weight of 2 kilograms of gold.
Some of the replies in the thread dismissed the project as a scam, and later posts suggest that those concerns were valid. GLY saw a brief period of trading activity mid-summer before the price crashed at the end of August. The thread hasn’t been updated since September.
Robot Sex Nickels
What’s in a name? For robot sex nickels (RSN), the name implies just about everything you need to know about this altcoin.
With a self-described “bouncy bouncy coin distribution” and a 600-year mining cycle, robotsexnickels had all the trappings of a coin built to be strange.
As the project’s Bitcoin Talk thread explained:
RSN saw most of its development over the summer. Activity dropped off in October, but by the looks of things, the few who stuck around with the coin appear to have been throwing hashes at the network for fun.
Cantor lost to a more conservative opponent during the election, and stepped down from his leadership post shortly after the loss. Long considered the Republican Party’s strongest link to the Wall Street giants that finance the party, Cantor resigned from his seat in August and has since taken a position at a New York investment bank.
Cantor’s loss – which stunned the conservative political establishment in the US and catalyzed the Tea Party movement – was immortalized by cantorcoin (EIC), a short-lived cryptocurrency that tied its hardcoded properties to the occasion and sported the tagline “Moderately Rare – Conservatively Secure”.
Pitched as a commemorative coin marking the event, the coin never gained traction as an asset, but certainly provided a brief, if not utterly strange, way to bid farewell to Cantor’s tenure in office. The short-lived alt went quiet in July, according to its CryptoCoinTalk forum thread.
The search for that so-called killer app of the Bitcoin protocol could be a defining factor in 2015, though whether explorations of this idea conducted in 2014 have any bearing on new developments remains to be seen.
One strange application CoinDesk came across was confessioncoin, an alt that essentially gave users an outlet to pseudononymously imprint their sins on the confessioncoin blockchain.
The cost: a fee of confessioncoin determined by a so-called "confession wizard" mechanism. As the developer noted about the project in May:
Forum posts suggests that development may have dropped off in early December after suffering block processing problems in October. According to posted pool stats, it appears that at least some miners are keeping the compendium of confessions alive.
A plethora of so-called "memecoins" took to the proverbial stage in 2014, as developer sought to ride the same level of enthusiasm sparked by the memecoin supreme, dogecoin.
Watcoin was a peculiarity among peculiarities given its rather unusual coin image, as well as the stated determination by its then-active development team to seek out the eponymous Wat Lady in order to grant a cryptocurrency gift.
"Wat", for those not in the know, has become, among some, an effective way to declare confusion, resignation or alarm in a digital setting.
Indications on Bitcoin Talk suggest that watcoin was the subject of a community takeover over the summer, which resulted in a brief rebranding effort that saw the coin dubbed "Wanted Attainable Traded", or WATcoin. However, the thread seems to have gone silent in August.
Which altcoin(s) do you think stood out in 2014? The most innovative? Disruptive? Notorious? Bizzare? Let us know in the comments below.
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