Joint article with Taha Zafar
It hasn’t been that long since EtherID was rediscovered. A quick recap: EtherID is the third oldest NFT collection and one of the earliest domain name systems (DNS) deployed on the Ethereum blockchain on Nov 29, 2015. The final and verified contract was launched on June 28, 2016. For an extremely early project — launched merely four months after the launch of the first ever smart contract platform Ethereum itself, EtherID presented the concept for and/or introduced a couple of unique functionalities.
The domain name systems (DNS) have existed before EtherIDs and the developer Alexandre Naverniouk knews about them, for instance the Namecoin blockchain and it’s fork Emercoin. Then there’s the recently rediscovered Linagee too. Like Namecoin (36,000 blocks or around 9 months), Emercoin (user’s choice), Ethereum Name Service (ENS, user’s choice), but unlike Linagee (no expiry), EtherIDs do expire.
He mentions in the EtherID GitHub “There are several Ethereum Name Registrars proposed/implemented. All of them are not what I expect the proper Name Registrar should be.”
It happens after a specific number of blocks (2,000,000 Ethereum blocks or just over 9 months) allowing the unique names to reenter the pool for anyone to claim rather than getting stuck in lost wallets, with squatters, or with people who no longer need it. This feature ensures that the domain / name is available to an actual user and doesn’t face the “name erosion” problem.
The dev was also aware of the Linagee Name Registrar (back then known as NameReg) and he designed the EtherID as he saw fit with the introduction post at Reddit titled “Ethereum Name Registrar as it should be”. Apparently, the developer wanted to try new concepts, which expanded upon the existing NameReg.
EtherID predates the ERC-20 standard alongside the ERC-721 standard. Both were developed before Ethereum even had a formal token or NFT standard in 2017/2018 respectively. In a detailed post published a week before the contract deployment, the dev presented the concept for certain advanced functionalities which were unheard of at that time.
According to the developer, there was supposed to be four parts of the EtherID smart contract: Hash Registrar, Auction Contract, Collector Contract, and Election Contract. The hash registrar is the basic one — it stores information inside the special name or domain in a key/value (as a hash) pair. The hash registrar also notes the address which owns it, the validity, amount of Ether (ETH) paid for registration or renewal and the value stored within.
Next the auctions contract is defined, which receives bids and decides on a winner — a variant of the sealed Vickrey auction. This was the functionality later adopted by the Ethereum Name Service.
By providing the description for the last two parts, the collector and election contract, he gave the idea of a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The collector contract was supposed to receive the funds from the auctions, change the price of the bidded asset for optimal distribution of the names and bidding fees to fight spam.
The last part and the DAO-like concept is introduced in the plans for the election contract, which was poised to become a joint community owned treasury with sybil resistant delegated voting to decide on the protocol’s parameters. However, for some reason, the auction/collector/election parts were never introduced formally on-chain, but the dev’s notes about these concepts give an insight into how early this project was and how far ahead the dev’s thinking was from its time.
EtherID’s other distinguishing features are the introduction of one of the earliest Chrome Extensions for a DApp introduced in Mar 2016, this was months before even MetaMask was launched in Sep 2016. The browser extension has been resurrected in an updated and streamlined version that does not need to run a full Ethereum node. The EtherID Youtube channel provides some videos how to use Pinata to store an IPFS hash with an EtherID and how to add and use the browser extension.
It also had the second earliest on-chain marketplace after Etheria, which allowed domain holders to trade their EtherIDs trustlessly and without relying on a middleman — all via the smart contract.
The total supply is 33,721 for the years 2015 to 2018 (see Figure 3). The annual breakdown is 9,203 (2015), 23,576 (2016), 928 (2017), and 14 (2018). There have been no later registrations until the rediscovery in 2022.
Among these 33,721 EtherIDs, the majority of them are plain words. Once we exclude all special characters and mixed ones with digits, we have 26,437 in total. 24,258 are from the Latin alphabet, followed by Chinese (886) and Arabic (375) words. Other languages make up 918 EtherIDs.
Besides, there are 2,398 digits of which 10 are single digits (1D), 100 2D, 981 3D, and 1,295 4D. The first 1D is “1“. It was registered on November 30, 2015 as the second EtherID directly after “test”. The first 2D is „10“, which was also registered on November 30, 2015 (rank: 10). The first 3D is “360”, which was registered on November 30, 2015 (rank: 101), while the first 4D is “1337” and registered on December 02, 2015 (rank: 1,117).
Given the encoding feature, EtherIDs can also be emojis (277) and ASCII art (142) very much like the Punycodes. The category Others (4,467) includes all kind of word/digit, word/special character mixes. It also captures 199 complete blank EtherIDs for which there is no valid decimal to UTF-8 decoding. One could interpret those as kind of misprints.
One of the notable aspects about EtherIDs are its first digits and ASCII names on Ethereum, if you take into account the earlier Linagee Name Registrar (LNR) names (there are 63 LNR names that were initial registered in 2015/16 based on the verified contract from August 8, 2015) and Etheria.
Since EtherIDs predate the ERC-20 and ERC-721 standard, the tokens need to be wrapped to make them compatible with modern NFT wallets. The team has developed an ERC-721 Wrapper (easy to deal with via etherid.org), which allows the trading of these domains on OpenSea, LooksRare, and x2y2. The wrapper requires two steps (“Prepare wrap”, then refresh website, then “Wrap”). The first step is also unlisting any EtherID that has been listed before on the zero-fee marketplace (see below).
The wrapped EtherIDs can be displayed in an onCyber gallery. The core team provides an information corner in the gallery and plans to organized meetings / auctions / parties in there as well.
The zero-fee marketplace
The updated-zero fee marketplace is using the same domain, etherid.org, and provides a place to put a domain to sale by specifying an address and a price in ETH. If the address is the Ethereum burn address 0x0000000000000000000000000000000000000000, it means that anyone can buy the domain. If it specifies an address with a price, it means only that Ethereum address can acquire that domain after paying.
The method for transferring an asset via the EtherID marketplace without selling, is to put the transfer address and have 0 ETH as price. This was extremely advanced for its time and in the absence of any NFT marketplace, allowed EtherID registrants to trade assets with zero fees or royalties.
P.S. The dev provided the following acknowledgement to honor the people who inspired him to create the EtherID project. “People who contributed to this proposal, in no particular order: @nagydani & @zelig (with their research for the swarm name registrar), @vbuterin (for insights in elections), @gavofyork (who designed the first name registrar ), @yann300 and @arkpar (who implemented the current name registrar), @pipermerriam & @nmushegian (for their great insights at DevCon1) and @ryepdx (that is implementing the maker registry) and @danielnovy (auctions Ðapp at consensys)”