A tale of two Northerns — The coin swap explained

Over the past few weeks, the Northern Network has undergone a massive overhaul — we now have a completely new blockchain with a different codebase. Furthermore, some of the parameters and coin statistics have been changed.

In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the changes we have made to Northern, as well as explore the ideas we have for the project going forward. Before that, however, we need to go back in time to when Northern first started, in order to make sense of everything that has happened up until this point.

 Our new Northern logo, made by community member Doniva.

Our new Northern logo, made by community member Doniva.

Northern begins

Firstly, let me introduce myself. I am Northern’s lead developer, otherwise known as “Community Manager” in the Discord server. I joined the Northern Discord and became actively involved in the project from its inception — I have been here since block 1 of the first chain and worked alongside the original Northern “team” in the early stages of the project.

My role was nothing to do with development back then — Rob.S, the founder of the coin, asked me to assist with marketing in the form of building up and managing the Twitter account, as well as assisting in the Discord by answering questions from new users.

I was optimistic about the project — remember, Northern came out around February of 2018 and during that time (which now seems like ages ago) masternode coins were all the hype. What drew me to Northern was the low coin supply and the slowly-tapering inflation, both of which we have decided to keep in the new codebase.

The original team consisted of myself, Rob.S (the founder) and Scribbles, who Rob had paid to do the actual coding and setting up of the Northern blockchain. After Northern had been listed on CryptoBridge for about 3 or 4 days, Rob.S decided to promptly sell all his coins, thereby crushing the NORT price, and exited the project, making sure to delete the Discord on his way out.

I woke up one morning to find that I was no longer in the Discord and the NORT price was on the floor. I was devastated. By that time, I had put in a good few days’ worth of work for Rob, who had me market the coin for him while he was exiting on the people I was bringing into the project — and after all that, he sold and did not even compensate the team or myself for work done. We were left with nothing.

 Rob.S dumps his coins and exits the project, shortly after getting listed on CryptoBridge.

Rob.S dumps his coins and exits the project, shortly after getting listed on CryptoBridge.

The Community takeover

Shortly after this, the community banded together and we saw the first formation of what would later become the Core / Community team that we have today. Scribbles, who had still stuck around to help, kindly set up a new Discord for us and even donated some of the NORT he got from Rob in order to fund the project further.

The community team did what we could with what we had — we got the coin listed on Delta portfolio tracking app, did a few marketing campaigns which helped boost our community numbers and even re-designed the logo and overall branding of the coin — however, without the necessary funding, there was a limit to what we could achieve.

At this point, we had been running the coin for about 2–3 months as a community, and we wanted to get a bit more structure and organization integrated into what we were doing. After many talks and votes with the community, we came to the decision that the best way forward for the project would be to move to a new chain, for reasons I will now explain.

The chain swap

A chain swap is different from a fork or update of the code, in that we literally moved over to another blockchain and started again from block 1. The reasons we decided to do this were multiple: Firstly, the original code contained quite a significant pre-mine. The “founder’s reward”, as it is otherwise known, is supposed to be held by the team and used for funding of the project throughout its life.

These coins are supposed to be well-managed and are not intended to be kept by a single person for his/her own benefit, but rather used for the benefit of the community. Unfortunately, with the old Northern pre-mine, this was not the case, as Rob.S sold most/all of these coins within the first week.

We moved to a new chain so that in the event that Rob.S still has some of his pre-mined coins from the first chain, we can ensure he is not able to claim those coins on the new chain. This essentially means that on the new chain, only people who bought, mined or minted their NORT will be able to own it — nobody will have coins floating around from the original pre-mine.

Secondly, the move to a new chain actually became a necessity a few days ago. When we had originally intended to move over, it was because of the pre-mine. However, the original NORT chain came to a complete stand-still not too long ago, as a result of an error in the code from the original developers. The error caused the chain to be unable to process block reward reductions, meaning after the first block halving the chain completely stopped. This meant that moving a new chain then became a must.

Another benefit of being on the new chain is that we have used a different codebase for this version of Northern — there are now features which we can enable and disable that we did not have access to before, and furthermore it also gave us the freedom to change the reward structure and block times etc. to better suit our needs.

So, what’s different?

Firstly, and probably most importantly, we have disabled masternodes for the time being. This will only be temporary, as we will re-enable them in due course, but we first want to make some amendments and changes to the structure of the masternode system on our network. In another article, we will dive deeper into the thoughts we have behind masternodes and explain how we plan to use them to benefit our network.

Secondly, we have changed the block times from 1 minute previously, to 2 minutes currently. This means we will have half the number of blocks than the old chain did in the same amount of time, which also means a lower inflation, which leads us to our next point.

We have also halved the block reward. It used to be 10 NORT per block, 5 to a masternode 5 to a miner. However, we have changed things up a bit. We no longer have masternodes (for now) and we have removed Proof-of-work mining, which means NORT is now 100% Proof-of-stake. The block reward is 5 coins per block (during this phase) and goes toward a staker (someone with a balance and a wallet that is open and connected to the internet).

You can view the new block rewards and their reduction periods below:

 Northern’s block reward stucture.

Northern’s block reward stucture.


In terms of coin supply, we have also made some amendments. The previous chain had a maximum supply of over 6.4 million coins, whereas the new chain has a maximum supply of just 5 million coins.

Furthermore, we also ensured that the block reward will continue for a longer period of time and will taper off slower and more gently than on the previous chain.

There are other, smaller changes that we have made which are non-trivial and will be completely explained and explored in further articles.

The plan for the future

From here on out, we have no plans to stop working on this project any time soon. As mentioned, I have been here from the start of the original chain and would like to continue developing and working on this coin well into the future. At the moment we have a continuously growing community on Discord and we are on the cusp of being listed again at CryptoBridge, which is the final piece of the puzzle we need to legitimize our efforts with the project.

As an investor or community member, you can expect consistency, hard work and determination from myself and the team, and I can assure you that we will remain active and keep the community informed on our progress every step of the way.