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What is Stacks?- A Beginner’s Guide

Stacks is an open-source network of decentralized apps and smart contracts built on Bitcoin. Stacks unleashes Bitcoin’s full potential as a programmable base layer.

This describes Stacks, but as simple as this definition is, there’s a lot here to unpack, let’s, deep-dive, into it.


The internet is the most significant technological revolution in human history. Tim Berners-Lee’s Internet was meant to be “a collaborative medium, a place where we [could] all meet and read and write.”

However, with all of the amazing updates, the Internet world changed. It felt amazing when everything we desired arrived in our hands in a matter of seconds, thanks to the Internet. The threat to digital privacy, on the other hand, became very real at the same time.

  • We began to lose our privacy from phones in our pockets to biometric databases used to mark us to government officials.
  • Our online browsing is being tracked and logged in. More Internet-connected devices are making their way into our homes.
  • These innovations have provided us with many daily conveniences and “free” services. But the data they generate is being crunched, archived, and repurposed for marketing and surveillance.
  • We are now facing risks that were unthinkable only a decade ago. Many companies & governments are acquiring and using data in ways that are not in people’s best interests. Unfortunately, those we entrust with our data can sometimes let us down.
  • Digital Privacy issues are severe, and we are all becoming the victims.

With the threat to digital privacy growing, the tech world is trying to find the solution with decentralized blockchain technology.

Although platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp, and other messaging and email platforms improve their privacy policies, these applications' centralization framework has allowed platform handlers and hackers to target our personal data and harvest our private information.

People’s privacy concerns about using centralized networks like Facebook, Google, clouds, and other mediums of connection are growing. There is a need for a decentralized platform that addresses all of their privacy concerns.

Unlike early web applications, which are generally maintained at no cost to developers (or large tech companies), the decentralized protocol layer such as blockchain is transparent. Everything is public and auditable here.

The blockchain is a large ledger of which everyone has a copy.
We can be confident that the ledger is correct because writing to the blockchain (mining) requires many people (computers) to solve mathematical problems that are simple to check but difficult to solve. Now that we have a source of truth in blockchain tech, the potential use cases and benefits are endless. We can construct a monetary system such as cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Stacks, etc.). We can even build a new Internet wherein Blockchain tech can put the users in control of their data and identity.

Data in the blockchain is generally immutable, and hence leak is less prevalent here. Hence, A Blockchain-based protocol is the need of the hour to help us eliminate digital privacy threats.

Is there any such technology already available??

Yes, If you haven’t yet, it’s time for you to explore the Stacks ecosystem. Stacks acts as a pioneer in building the new Internet where We as the victims are turned into Owners. Now, let’s get into the details of it.

What is Stacks?

Stacks (originally Blockstack) was co-founded in 2013 in the Princeton computer science department by Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea. They built this ecosystem with the base of Stacks blockchain. Stacks blockchain is a layer 1 virtual blockchain built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. This enables the most durable and secure blockchain known so far, the Bitcoin blockchain programmable.

When we say Bitcoin, people always connect it with the digital currency Bitcoin. That is incorrect. Bitcoin is so much more than just a digital currency to be used for global payments. It is also an immutable, global public data ledger that enterprises can use to power blockchain applications that transform their businesses in new and exciting ways.

Bitcoin is the strongest sovereign blockchain. Bitcoin is a tamper-proof source of truth, a value settlement protocol. Once you have the ultimate truth source, We can build other decentralized protocols and use cases on it.

The world is converging on Bitcoin, and the demand for use cases around Bitcoin is increasing. Instead of competing with Bitcoin’s underlying protocol, Stacks builds on and extends Bitcoin. This enables Stacks to grow with Bitcoin and leverage Bitcoin’s capital, security, and network. Also, A transaction is impossible to reverse or change once it has settled on Bitcoin. These settlement assurances are critical to decentralized apps.

If Bitcoin is so powerful and secure, why not build directly on Bitcoin? Why a separate blockchain?

There were two fundamental challenges to building apps and smart contracts on Bitcoin.

  1. Scalability: The base Bitcoin blockchain has a limited capacity for transactions.
  2. Secure contracts: The Bitcoin blockchain has a limited scripting language and does not allow general smart contracts. This design choice ensures security at the base layer.

The Stacks blockchain addresses the limitations of scalability and secure smart contracts and enables apps and smart contracts for Bitcoin. This is possible through a unique consensus algorithm called Proof of Transfer that runs between two blockchains.

Enabling scalable smart contracts directly on Bitcoin has been a long-standing bottleneck, and the Stacks blockchain unlocks that functionality.

What will happen to Stacks blockchain if the security of the Bitcoin blockchain is compromised?

Even though this scenario is most unlikely, if it happens, then it won’t affect Stacks much. That is because Stacks is a virtual blockchain.

Have you heard of virtual machines, fondly called as VMs? Virtual machines are the software that emulates the computer. VMS is utilizing the hardware of the base machine and gets bootstrapped. Why are they doing this? Say you are running Linux VM on top of a Windows machine and something happens to your Windows machine. Still, you can access your Virtual machine from another Base Windows machine, and your work is not lost.

Similarly, the Stacks Blockchain is a virtual chain that is bootstrapped by utilizing the power of the base Bitcoin blockchain. This is an excellent concept that makes Stacks even more powerful. In the future, if something happens to the Bitcoin blockchain, then Stacks blockchain can easily migrate stacks blockchain to another base blockchain.

This acts as a powerful solution for longevity and scalability for Stacks blockchain. This unlocks great potential for apps built on top of the Stacks blockchain with App Chains' concept.

Like how Stacks is built as a virtual chain on top of the Bitcoin blockchain, the Apps built on Stacks can also have their own virtual chains on top of the Stacks blockchain. This will solve the scalability issues of the apps.

This is awesome. Do Stacks have its own cryptocurrency?

Yes, Stacks have a native token with the ticker STX. This is the first SEC-approved non-security token. STX tokens act as fuel for Clarity smart contracts running on the Stacks blockchain along with the money value. Plus, the STX tokens also ensure the network is stable with the novel Stacking mechanism.

Now that we understood Stacks blockchain let’s quickly review the history of the Stacks ecosystem's growth.

History of Stacks

  • Stacks (originally block stack) was co-founded in 2013 in the Princeton computer science department by Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea.
  • In July 2019, Stacks conducted a token sale (the first token offering in US history) under regulation A+ of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • Stacks has now raised more than $75 million from investors such as Union Square Ventures USV, Y Combinator, Winklevoss Capital, Lux Capital, Foundation Capital, and many more.
  • In October 2019, Stacks entered into a Token Integration Agreement and related to DDA with Blockchain Luxembourg S.A. to airdrop STX token to a set of Blockchain users under the Blockchain’s Airdrop Program.
  • In 2020, Stacks 2.0 testnet was launched, and developers and miners get to play with the tech.
  • In January 2021, Stacks 2.0 main net was launched.
  • Now, more than 300 Dapps have been built on Stacks, including Blocksurvey, Pravica, Sigle… Stacks ecosystem has registered millions of users, including the world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee.

Stacks brings the ecosystem of projects, independent entities (Hiro PBC, Stacks foundation, Freehold, Daemon Technologies, New Internet Labs), and community members to a single brand called Stacks ecosystem. This ecosystem works to build a user-owned internet on Bitcoin.


Digital privacy threats prevalent in the current Internet are increasing every day. The best solution to get back our fundamental right, “Digital Privacy,” is the use of Decentralized blockchain tech.

Stacks is one such decentralized ecosystem built as a virtual blockchain on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. This enables the possibility of building apps and smart contracts in the most durable Bitcoin blockchain. That way, we got a powerful ecosystem to build a new user-owned Internet where we are the owners instead of the Products.

Stacks enables building apps and smart contracts on Bitcoin. This opens a huge opportunity for all app developers to build an ethical app. Let’s build the future Internet together!!

In the next blog, let’s dive deep into building Web3 apps on Stacks.



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