Bitcoin Ordinals Inscriptions
What is an Ordinal?
In short, a rough definition of Ordinals is to say they are Bitcoin NFTs you can mint directly on the Bitcoin blockchain, without the need for a sidechain or separate token.
Ordinals were made possible by Bitcoin's Taproot upgrade. On January 21st 2023, Bitcoin Core software engineer Casey Rodarmor launched the ordinals protocol, which has taken over crypto news since. By finding a way to inscribe 4MB of data on a Bitcoin block, Casey Rodarmor has unlocked new possibilities for the Bitcoin network.
The Ordinal Theory Handbook states that, "individual satoshis can be inscribed with arbitrary content, creating unique Bitcoin-native digital artifacts that can be held in Bitcoin wallets and transferred using Bitcoin transactions. Inscriptions are as durable, immutable, secure, and decentralized as Bitcoin itself."
While there have been debates and controversy about Ordinals, there are also many benefits, and Ordinals could become the new standard for digital assets, and there may be a cultural shift for the Bitcoin network and Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
What is the difference with an NFT?
By now, you've heard of NFTs. Although they are most popular on the ETH (the Ethereum blockchain), they have spread to other blockchains such as Solana, Polygon and Stacks, with its leading marketplace Gamma.io
Non-fungible tokens, such as Ethereum NFTs or Stacks NFTs, generally point to off-chain data such as an image. This data can be kept on IPFS, a decentralized file storage system that can be changed using dynamic metadata, as well as other file storage systems, each with unique counterparty risk trade-offs. Metadata can be refreshed on NFT marketplaces such as Gamma.io and OpenSea, which makes NFTs "incomplete" for Rodarmor.
For Casey Rodarmer, Ordinals NFTs, however, are "complete" because all the data is inscribed directly on-chain. They are intended to reflect what NFTs should be: true digital artifacts. NFTs also often have creator royalties attached to them, as is the case on NFT marketplaces such as Gamma.io, whereas in his view, Ordinals don't. On the Gamma.io Ordinal marketplace, creators can opt-in to include royalties.
To find Ordinals, you can go to ordinals.com, or the Ordinals Discord Channel. As it's still very early in the Ordinals market, there is currently no marketplace for them, meaning you may have to connect with people directly through services such as Discord and conduct direct transactions, so we recommend you proceed with caution. You can also explore the Ordinals Collections on Gamma, where you can also see those created using Gamma's no-code platform.
What is an Ordinal inscription?
Each Bitcoin (BTC) is broken into 100,000,000 units called satoshis (or sats). In a podcast interview, Casey Rodarmor explains that in brief, the protocol allows users to send and receive sats --- the smallest measuring unit of Bitcoin recorded on the blockchain --- that carry optional extra data in ordinal progression. Each sat is serially numbered, starting at 0. These numbers are "ordinal numbers" in the mathematical sense, giving an order to each sat in the total supply.
Segregated Witness, or SegWit, was launched in 2017 and fixed many bugs in Bitcoin Core, allowing more transactions per block. It laid the groundwork for Layer 2 chains such as the Bitcoin Lightning Network, and caused heated debate in the Bitcoin community, leading to a hardfork of the network. The inscription process inscribes, or writes, the data of the content stored into the witness of the Bitcoin transaction.
How to inscribe an Ordinal?
Despite the surge in interest in ordinal inscriptions, the process of actually creating an inscription (also called inscribing) is highly technical, complex, and time consuming. In order to inscribe Ordinals, users must download Bitcoin core and run a fully synced Bitcoin node, which is costly and requires advanced technical knowledge. After the sync is completed, the next step is to create an Ordinals wallet and send some satoshis to its address. And that's just the start of it.
Gamma's no-code platform removes these barriers and makes ordinals accessible to anyone with a Bitcoin address. Paired with the creator launchpad on the Stacks programming and scaling layer for Bitcoin, the Bitcoin NFT creator experience is finally ready for mainstream adoption, without sacrificing superior levels of security, trust, and decentralization that only Bitcoin can offer.
In February 2023, NFT wallets such as Xverse Wallet quickly announced Bitcoin Ordinal supported functionality, making it easier to set up a Bitcoin address for your Ordinal. Hiro Wallet developers also confirmed support for Ordinals was on the way.
The Satoshibles NFT collection team also created Ordinals Bot, which will inscribe an Ordinal on your behalf.
Notable Ordinals collections
Ordinal Punks is one of the most notable projects and pays homage to CryptoPunks. The collection is a set of 100 Bitcoin NFTs minted within the first 650 Inscriptions on the Bitcoin chain. The Taproot Wizards, a collection of hand-drawn NFT wizards, represents the largest block and transaction in the BTC chain's history, with a staggering 4MB. Ethereum-based collection OCM (OnChainMonkey), minted 10,000 Ordinals into a single Inscription, making it one of the first 10k collections on Bitcoin.
But NFTs aren't the only use case for Ordinals. NFT marketplace Gamma.io used its no-code ordinal inscription service to broadcast their press release directly to the Bitcoin blockchain, making it the the world's first press release inscribed to Bitcoin.
It's still very early in the Ordinals market, but the web3 ecosystem has been buzzing and many new projects have been emerging, so make sure to stay posted.
About Gamma.io and Stacks
Gamma is the leading open marketplace for Bitcoin-secured NFTs, powered by Stacks.
The Stacks blockchain provides a blockchain technology that uses Bitcoin's high security while allowing the creation of smart contracts, using a smart contract language called Clarity, which has an easy to read syntax. By design, it requires smart contracts to publish their source code on the blockchain giving users the ability to verify that code, and developers more tools with which to build and innovate. Clarity is open-source and essentially makes the Stacks blockchain a "Github for smart contracts".
Gamma consists of three core platforms: its user-first marketplace for exploring and collecting NFTs, its creator-first launchpad for artists to deploy fully-tested no-code, smart contracts in minutes, and its social platform, which brings together creators and collectors in an engaging and Web3-native way. Gamma supports over a thousand NFT collections, nearly 80% of which were deployed using its no-code portal.
In the midst of all the Ordinals related crypto news, Gamma launched its no-code creator platform for making NFTs on native Bitcoin, using ordinals. Gamma's platform makes creating ordinals simple and accessible to anyone with a Bitcoin address.
Paired with the creator launchpad on the Stacks programming and scaling layer for Bitcoin, the Bitcoin NFT creator experience is finally ready for mainstream adoption, without sacrificing superior levels of security, trust, and decentralization that only Bitcoin can offer.