Cardano is an open-source blockchain originating from peer-reviewed academic research, according to the team. Cardano does not have a single published white paper but is developed from a collection of academic papers. Cardano sees itself as a “third-generation” protocol, improving on Bitcoin and Ethereum as the first and second generations, respectively. Cardano is named after an Italian Renaissance mathematician, Gerolamo Cardano, and its native currency ADA is named after Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century mathematician sometimes referenced as the first computer programmer.
Cardano is backed by three entities: IOHK, The Cardano Foundation, and Emurgo. IOHK is a blockchain research and development company founded by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood that is contracted to work on Cardano from 2015 through 2020. The Cardano Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on core development and ecosystem growth for Cardano. Emurgo is a Japanese venture capital firm.
Cardano’s full launch will consist of five phases: Byron, Shelley, Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire. The Byron era arrived in Sep. 2017 with the mainnet launch of the Cardano blockchain. During this phase, the chain operated as a federated network that only supported ADA transactions. The next phase, Shelley, could launch towards the end of Jul. 2020, bringing Cardano’s proposed Ouroboros Proas Proof-of-Stake (PoS) protocol to life. Cardano development teams, IOHK and Emurgo, are researching and building the network’s remaining phases in parallel with Shelley, suggesting the launch timelines for Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire could be shorter compared to the lengthy development behind Shelley.