In early August 2020, Michael Goldstein, Pierre Rochard and others asked what seemed to be a trivial question. What's Ethereum's total monetary supply?
Can they articulate how to easily and independently verify the monetary supply of ETH?— Michael Goldstein (@bitstein) August 6, 2020
What they found next was both surprising and absolutely intriguing.
Turns out there isn't a single official number for the currently available Ethereum supply! Worse yet: there is no official tool we can use to verify monetary ETH supply. Everyone has blindly relied on Etherscan ever since the Ethereum ICO 6+ years ago.
Ethereum devs and users then scrambled to come up with an official number - but they all seemed to come up with different results!
One user then replied "check Etherscan!". Hilarity ensued.
This reply set off a whole wave of memes and generalized Ethereum bashing. But it's no laughing matter - there really isn't a way to verify total ETH monetary supply.
The reference Ethereum full node implementation, geth, does not provide an API endpoint to query how much ETH there is in circulation. Worse yet, there isn't a single number available! Every service seems to respond with a different value.
Leon, of @factcheckmypost ran the numbers [sic] and came up with a surprising result.
Querying 7 different sources yields 7 different numbers!
I didn't believe so I just testedhttps://t.co/0CbDOSTduf 112086620https://t.co/Q4zY8cc4Wn 112429827https://t.co/fnj6CHINYs 112086460https://t.co/erY12BzMDC 112086233https://t.co/QN07Qj7Yn0 109372852https://t.co/jbz6GeQXWk 112086403https://t.co/FCBjIASD6J 111,743,459— Leon, the fact checker (@factcheckmypost) August 7, 2020
Pierre Rochard then challenged the Ethereum community to provide a single number for the Ethereum circulating supply. He put a 1 million Satoshi bounty up for anyone who provided an open source script that could correctly add up Ethereum supply.
A few hours later, a first script earned the million SAT bounty:
Quick script to compute the total eth supply. Gives a result close to etherscan, but don't trust me and etherscan, review the code and run it yourself.https://t.co/dnDFTs6YlO pic.twitter.com/9ECDtF1509— Marc-André Dumas (@marcandu) August 7, 2020
Rochard then put up more bounties for additional scripts:
I've paid out the bounty for Script 1.0— Pierre Rochard (@pierre_rochard) August 7, 2020
There's a 1 million sats bounty for Script 2.0
Weekend hackathon! https://t.co/Lubyz2elVY
Udi Wertheimer then coined the #SupplyGate hashtag.
I salute @bitstein and @pierre_rochard for their investigative work uncovering the ETH #supplygate.— Udi Wertheimer (@udiWertheimer) August 9, 2020
But it’s time to #articulate the steel man argument...
God only knows that no one else can pull it off!
Grab your cancellation torches and read the THREAD /1 pic.twitter.com/Tl3NvEr8BK
The whole episode was both hilarious and highly concerning.
The fact is that there simply was no independent open-source way to verify Ethereum's total monetary supply until now.
Everyone relied on Etherscan all this time!
Ethereum’s monetary policy credibility depends on etherscan and google cloud (are they one and the same?).— Pierre Rochard (@pierre_rochard) August 6, 2020
I’m not trolling, this is literally what the world’s most intelligent ethereans believe.
Shocking and disturbing for all ETH holders. pic.twitter.com/LNshY1vmWO
(Keep in mind that Ethereum is 6 years old. )
Until this moment it hadn't occurred to anyone to independently count how many ETH coins there were? This is a very basic application of blockchains : to walk the chain while verifying transactions and adding outputs.
Never a dull day in crypto!