Komodo Origin Tale
“I was around in the days of NXT, SuperNet, and BTCD. Not at the beginning of NXT and BTCD but, almost at the beginning of SuperNET.
One evening, after my 9-5 corporate job I looked at my archive hard drives and found a copy of a Bitcoin course from Lynda.com named “Up and Running with Bitcoin”. It was mid-December 2014, and I guess this course might have been sitting in my archives since 2013 or even earlier.
It was the best day ever in my life! The level of knowledge and learning paths it opened is hard to express. Like every other newbie I was seeking for more knowledge on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. At that time it was not easy to find relevant information on YouTube other than forums or blogs etc. It indeed felt like missing a train . I was looking for evolution in technology and what happened after Bitcoin. I then stumbled upon videos about NXT. Explored NXT. It was showing stock exchange types of trading done on blockchain, and I was not even able to comprehend what it was all doing. I read some NXT forum threads, watched some videos, and was finally able to comprehend the possibilities that smarter blockchains bring. On NXT it was jl777’s projects which were most popular.
James started SuperNET in October 2014 after an ICO, and was working on this tech using NXT, which had the ability to create assets, or call them tokens, like ERC20 on the NXT blockchain which could be traded. In simpler words James’ idea was to open the world of NXT’s Asset Exchange to external cryptocurrencies. He was basically making a decentralised exchange bridge between the NXT blockchain and all other cryptocurrencies. MultiGateway was the first iteration of that and it was called SuperNET.
The whole code of SuperNET was built from scratch in C language (not C++ or any other language was used), except some cryptography specific libraries. James describes himself as a “Simple C Programmer”. I have seen him coding in C language. Only rarely have I seen him coding in other programming languages.
Learn more about how jl777 learned to code here:
BTCD was started by some anonymous developer with the handle BTCDdev, and jl777 started contributing to BTCD to help with some anonymity tech in BTCD. BTCD later became the lifeboat for jl777’s project SuperNET, which got hit hard by the NXT blockchain’s new upgrades. They gave multiple hurdles to the most used project in NXT’s history. Starting with APIs backward incompatibility to message size limits to endless debates on the forum. This experience gave jl777 the push to formalize his idea and is the reason behind the Declaration of Independence.
I was just mostly a community member and voluntarily contributing to jl777 projects in the days where James’ projects moved apart from NXT to BTCD and then upgraded to Komodo Platform later on.
James is real smart when it comes to solving complex problems. I have seen time and again whenever some problem hits his project, he either resolves it over a weekend break, or finds an alternative solution even better than the previous solution he’d been working on overcoming. He’d solve not just the problem but crush it with a new method of implementation.
NXT’s incompatible backward API support and memory size limit in messages severely affected the SuperNET project. James was thinking of possible solutions. It meant spending another couple of months refactoring his code according to the new APIs and system requirements for NXT. With the real probability that in the future more backwards incompatible changes would be made by NXT. This was the treatment he got from NXT even after his projects brought the most user traffic to the NXT blockchain.
From then on James moved all his dependency on NXT for SuperNET technologies to BTCD. While working on that, the industry’s first “zero knowledge proof” transactions technology evolved to the point where it could be used in production. Zcash was under development, and as soon as the release candidate code was reached for Zcash, James picked that code and applied all the things he had learned over the years to this fresh fork of Zcash and implemented dPoW.
These events happened in 2015-2016.
We the community members could see it was hard to go through that phase. Many of the conversations can no longer be found on the open internet as those were actually lost to the 10,000 message limit of Slack channels back then. Many of these arguments were shared and can still be searched on the NXT Forum.
Being a community volunteer I was not informed about what might be happening in planning and development as a solution to keep the SuperNET project moving forward. Knowing most things about NXT, BTCD, SuperNET and interacting with the community and James himself, I could imagine the expected outcome already. The solution was to have an independent blockchain which is not governed by 3rd party developers. This way it would not hurt James’ project as he kept developing. James did exactly that and moved away from NXT to BTCD in a couple of months. All SuperNET multi-gateway architecture at some point was working via BTCD if I remember correctly.
Then Zcash came along and BitcoinDark (BTCD) got upgraded to Komodo (KMD). If you ask most of the community members who’ve been around since James worked on SuperNET, they are actually grateful to NXT for what they did. Without their push of SuperNET out of the NXT blockchain, we wouldn’t have today an independent, tax free, blockchain development architecture that James created out of necessity and generosity for the whole cryptocurrency space.
Komodo Platform is the live example of what James had envisioned in his Declaration of Independence post.
I should cover some of my background too.
From studies, I have a Masters in Computer Science (MCA) and nearly a decade of Linux systems admin experience.
Programming and development was kinda my side work alongside my day job, but never a full time before I moved to New Zealand in 2011.
Being a student I worked at many different jobs from dish washer to customer services, in retail to corporate IT support, to PHP based web applications developer for a Fortune 500 company in NZ. I had my own small company in India providing IT solutions to small and medium businesses, so I already had well over a decade of experience working with free open source software before I came to know about Bitcoin in Dec 2014.
By the time I stumbled upon Bitcoin, and then NXT, and then James’ work, I was already earning well in my corporate day job. My daily routines were like doing an 8-5 day job, then I’d rush home to explore, learn, help, contribute, build in whatever I liked until midnight or even later. Then repeat.
I was exploring Raspberry Pi almost in the same time frame as when I explored Bitcoin in 2014-2015, so I started building my own project called SuperMESH.
It was for simplifying the life of blockchain users to make it a bit easier, using cheap tools and software, along with trying to add something more of value to it.
James contacted me to see if I could join his chat server Slack, and to see if I could help with his work anywhere possible. And I sure did contribute without hesitation or expectation of something back in return. My mindset was to first learn the craft and then charge, instead of charging for the craft I knew, to help projects. Most of the time I was just voluntarily helping in many different areas of SuperNET in Slack and the NXT forum. I did documents, testing, explaining complex tech to newbies in a simpler form, coding GUI for my own project, and then later for SuperNET.
I had been looking for an opportunity where James could hire me and I could work full time on just his work. It was much more fulfilling and I was willing to take the risk of leaving a well paid day job. So, that’s what I did in Nov 2016. Gave a month’s notice at my day job and started working full time with jl777 on Komodo Platform.
My first task was to create the graphical application for the atomic swaps technology that James was building over the years. There was no graphical application for Komodo at that time. Zcash had some community wallets for a single blockchain, while James’ code was managing multiple cryptocurrencies within a single application backend API. Multi currency wallets were also rare back then. I used my past experience and whatever little or more I knew and created “Iguana Wallet”. Without having a multi-currency wallet I could not have moved to a full atomic swap application.
“Iguana Wallet” later changed its brand name to “Agama Wallet” because the backend API provider daemon was also called “Iguana.” It was confusing for marketing if we kept using the name “Iguana Wallet”.
The idea of a Multi-Gateway was to support and combine different quality blockchain projects to be fully interoperable with each other. Projects like Qtum, Syscoin, NXT, BTC, LTC, etc would be linked to a multi-signature operated software called SuperNET, which worked as a central hub or like a bridge for getting in and out of the NXT blockchain. Users had to install a SuperNET wallet alongside their NXT wallet. They’d get the BTC address from the SuperNET wallet. SuperNET fees were issued on NXT’s blockchain Assets Exchange with an asset named "SuperBTC.” Users could then trade these SuperBTC on the NXT Asset Exchange with any other asset on the exchange.
To get out of the NXT Asset Exchange, the user had to send the SuperBTC to a NXT address from the SuperNET wallet running alongside the NXT wallet. Doing so initiated the process of redeeming SuperBTC to real/native BTC for the end user.
The backend system was Multi-Gateway. It was using multi-signature addresses on multiple servers where SuperNET software was running along with all the supported blockchains which were supported by the SuperNET wallet to get in and out of the NXT Asset Exchange.
The solution of Multi-Gateway was not 100% decentralised, but it was a great start for making a nice experience of interoperability between many different cryptocurrencies. James did all of that back in 2014-2015. If you look at the time line of many of the different projects, Multi-Gateway was the one which actually showed a practical implementation of “Proxy Tokens”, years ahead of ANY other blockchain project.
Most of my early career I worked as a Linux systems administrator and provided free open source software based solutions to small and medium businesses. Working as a PHP programmer was necessary to get a decent job and become settled in New Zealand.
Working with James exposed me to HUGE amounts of knowledge and wisdom I could never have expected. Not just as a coder, but also learning valuable financial lessons, just by being around the sharp minds hanging around James in Slack channels.
Back in the days there weren’t many trolls or people like today who only talked trash. James’ SuperNET Slack was a hub of innovator discussions. Projects like Waves, IOTA, BitPanda, Komodo Platform and many others came about from the same Slack group. Many of today’s founders of big projects had been part of the journey of SuperNET at one time or another.
Such a level of exposure surely leads to knowledge and wisdom being shared to all of its members, and I feel honored to have been at the right place at the right time.
Due to James’ projects and because of my own urge to learn something new, I acquired different skills and programming languages over the years, as the need arose. Node.js, Golang, C, and Bitcoin Blockchain scripting are a few of the things at work I got exposure to. I could not make my code without knowing and understanding all of them.
With the SuperMESH project, James actually offered to me huge funding in the beginning to help with its development as well. 200,000 NXT. Which I refused to take because my thought at that point was to make something first and then get funding if any was needed, or just build my own portfolio well enough so that I didn’t actually have to get funds from anywhere else. It worked out.
Whatever little I have learned about managing my financial life and portfolio has helped a lot over the years. I can now fund my own small projects thanks to James and the exposure to his community of geniuses.
James has developed tons of custom blockchain consensus applications, in Komodo Platform, in recent years. The Platform has all the solutions for major problems which arise for blockchains at scale. Scaling, interoperability, decentralisation, privacy, and security are some of the core and fundamental needs for any new blockchain based application. And all of these are available to any developer or entrepreneur who wishes to make something novel using blockchain tech.
Komodo is an evolution of Satoshi Nakomoto’s work, which was Bitcoin. Without reinventing the wheel, unlike Ethereum, James worked on the same architecture that Satoshi Nakamoto used in Bitcoin, and enhanced it further to the degree where its software development kit actually exceeds the problems at scale which today platforms like Ethereum faces. You or anyone else should really read the Tokenomics article by James.
There are more articles from James on his Medium profile which might be of some interest too.
Circling back to where technology will lead next, it is hard to imagine our daily life, from birth to death, without a part of it using blockchain technologies. It doesn’t matter what regulations or geopolitics exists, the evolution of blockchain technology is moving at lightning speed in all directions. It is hard to keep up. In the next couple of years I expect an explosion in privacy applications on blockchain, along with all the blockchain infrastructure moving fully into web3. It means that to make everything work all you’ll need is just a web browser. Your identity is your private key, and not your passport or any other physical or digital government issued identity card. This is what I expect by around 2030.
Every person on the planet will be using blockchain apps without even knowing they are using blockchain based apps. They actually won’t need to know, just like they don’t need to understand what’s going on now behind the Email Service Provider and Email Servers. I expect life will be a lot easier and more affordable thanks to a sharing economy. I don’t expect a high quality lifestyle everywhere, maybe just in Metro cities at first.
A push to non-proof-of-work based blockchains consensus methods will be boosted even more thanks to raging climate disasters in the coming decades. Banks and Government institutions are fighting hard already, but I still see them on the losing side even as they are now bending slightly towards cryptocurrencies, like offering to store cryptocurrencies in banks, which totally defeats the whole purpose of cryptocurrencies in the first place.
The current bull market will teach billions of users what banking actually is and how to manage their finances responsibly for the future. We humans are weird. Most of the time we learn by experience and not by learning the numbers on paper. The bad experience of the coming bear market to global economic disaster will be very hard for billions of people, but it will also bring an enlightened quality with the next set of entrepreneurs from unexpected places. I expect this will give even more of a boost to the adoption and innovative use cases we can not even think of right now. The same cycle of innovation from the decade 2000 to 2010 will repeat in the next 20 years, but using a 100x boost on current blockchain technologies.
I’m fortunate that I’m young enough to be witnessing the most amazing things unfold into the future, on multiple fronts from science to geopolitics. I have mostly a very optimistic and positive future outlook, no matter what or how much paranoia and negativity is spewed around from different media online.”
Then later I contributed to jl777’s different projects like:
BTCD Desktop Wallet
Iguana API UI
Iguana Wallet, later was renamed Agama Wallet
BarterDEX-GUI for atomic swaps application
Shurli a decentralised subatomic swap prototype
PS. Satinder Grewal operates and manages a small team of software developers under his company Meshbits Limited which is now developing the iOS wallet for Pirate Chain project. Pirate Chain is built using Komodo Platform open source software technologies. Along with that he’s also contributing to Chips project coordinating with different developer resources to help advance decentralised gaming using lightning-network technology.