Zcash started life back in 2013 as a project known as Zerocoin. The Zerocoin project was the work of Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Christina Garman, Aviel D. Rubin who were at The Johns Hopkins University Department of Computer Science, Baltimore, USA.
The Zerocoin project was designed to address the biggest problem with Bitcoin: its lack of privacy.
Matthew, Ian, Christina, and Aviel’s Zerocoin project paper is summarized as this: “Bitcoin is the ﬁrst e-cash system to see widespread adoption. While Bitcoin offers the potential for new types of ﬁnancial interaction, it has signiﬁcant limitations regarding privacy. Speciﬁcally, because the Bitcoin transaction log is completely public, users’ privacy is protected only through the use of pseudonyms. In this paper we propose Zerocoin, a cryptographic extension to Bitcoin that augments the protocol to allow for fully anonymous currency transactions. Our system uses standard cryptographic assumptions and does not introduce new trusted parties or otherwise change the security model of Bitcoin. We detail Zerocoin’s cryptographic construction, its integration into Bitcoin, and examine its performance both in terms of computation and impact on the Bitcoin protocol.” (1)
This original Zerocoin project was covered by the Press as an “Add-On” to Bitcoin: “Called Zerocoin, it’s a cryptographic add-on to Bitcoin that allows for transactions which cannot be linked together. The key is that it does this without introducing any new centralised elements into the network or using laundering, whereby coins are spent through intermediaries to hide the root purchaser’s wallet address.” (2) and was heralded as a solution to “Fulfill the dream of truly Private payments” which “If adopted by enough of the Bitcoin network, Zerocoin’s inventors believe it could become a fundamental upgrade to Bitcoin’s code, integrating itself into the currency and solving what many see as serious privacy flaws in Bitcoin’s current implementation” (3)
This work then lead to a collaboration in 2014 between the original Zerocoin researchers at John Hopkins University and cryptographers at MIT, The Technion, and Tel Aviv University who together were able to improve upon Zerocoins design by making it more efficient and more anonymous. “With the new Zerocash protocol, unlike the old Zerocoin protocol, users can make direct payments to each other with a vastly more efficient cryptographic protocol that also hides the amount of the payment, not just its origin.” (4) This new protocol by Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, and Madars Virza produced a coin which would no longer be an “Add-On” to the original Bitcoin but instead would be a new full-fledged digital currency known as Zerocash.
It is not known exactly when the Zerocash team began collaborating with Zooko and his team from Least Authority to transition Zerocash into Zcash but the very first issue listed on the Zcash Github dates to November 2014 (5) and Zookos first public mention of the collaboration publicly is in May of 2015. (6)
Zooko Wilcox, the entire team from Zerocash, and Engineers: Nathan Wilcox, Daira Hopwood, Sean Bowe, Taylor Hornby, Jack Grigg and Maureen Walsh along with a set of Advisors: Gavin Anderesen, Vitalik Buterin, Andrew Miller, Arthur Breitman, and Joseph Bonnaeu (7) are working diligently to bring out the first public Version (1.0) of Zcash.
The Zcash Team currently has a milestone of October 28, 2016 set for the 1.0 Launch. (8)
(5) https://github.com/zcash/zcash/issues/1 (11/25/14)
(6) https://leastauthority.com/blog/a_bug_in_libsnark.html (5/16/15)
PEASE NOTE: All the information on this page is publicly available and presented in good faith with respect to the Zcash Teams for the purpose of creating an accurate timeline for Zcash. If there are any mistakes or corrections please contact me: feedback (at) minezcash.com