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The Cardano has a clear roadmap for the development and evolution of the platform, which is divided into five phases called eras that implement upgrades and add functionality to the Cardano protocol.


Like its blockchain and native asset, eras of the roadmap (and hard forks) are named after exceptional scholars, mathematicians, and scientists.

Сardano eras are delivered sequentially, while the work for each era happens in parallel, with research, prototyping, and development often in progress all at once across the different development streams.

Each area represents years of effort with an overview of goals, descriptions of the core functional components, links to associated academic research, status updates, and even real-time code commits.

The Byron Era - Foundation

Architecture foundation and functionality tests.

September 2017 Named after poet and politician George Gordon Byron who actively participated and lost his life in Greece's War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire. His daughter, Ada Lovelace was the first recorded revolutionary programmer, ADA – the native cryptocurrency coin of Cardano blockchain was named after her.

The Byron Phase is the first of five phases in Cardano’s developmental roadmap. After two years of development, the Cardano blockchain mainnet went live in September 2017, enabling users to buy and sell its native ADA coin — powered by its pioneering Ouroboros PoS protocol. Other notable features include the debut of the Daedalus and Yoroi ADA wallets.

The story began with a vision of addressing the three strategic challenges facing all blockchain networks: scalability, interoperability, and sustainability. Two years, thousands of GitHub commits, and hundreds of hours of study later, the first version of Cardano shipped in September 2017, and the Byron era began.

The first incarnation of Cardano allowed users to buy and sell the ADA cryptocurrency – so-named for revolutionary programmer Ada Lovelace – on a federated network running the groundbreaking Ouroboros consensus protocol. The heart of the Cardano network, Ouroboros is the first proof-of-stake protocol created on the basis of academic research, with a mathematically-proven level of security.


  • ICO
  • ADA Cryptocurrency
  • Cardano’s block explorer
  • Ouroboros consensus protocol
  • Paper Wallets
  • The Daedalus wallet, IOHK’s official desktop wallet for ADA
  • The Yoroi, is a light wallet from IOHK’s sister company Emurgo designed for quick transactions and day-to-day use.
  • The launch and growth of the Cardano community.



The Shelley Era - Decentralization

Cardano main net launch and blockchain network decentralization.

July 2020

Named after Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley an English novelist who wrote the gothic novel "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus".

A period of growth and development for the network focused on ensuring greater decentralization, which leads to enhanced security and a more robust environment with the majority of nodes operated by individual network participants.

Shelley's era is a period of growth and development for the network designed to achieve a smooth, low-risk transition without service interruptions. The era encompassed the critical steps in Cardano’s journey to optimize decentralization. As the growth of the network progresses with the majority of nodes run by network participants, Cardano becomes more decentralized and gets higher greater security and robustness.

Shelley also introduced delegation, staking, a reward system to drive stake pools, and community adoption. As a proof-of-stake network, users stake their ADA to participate in the network. Painstakingly designed using game theory and the latest research into proof-of-stake networks, the delegation and incentive scheme will allow and encourage users to delegate their stake to stake pools – always-on, community-run network nodes – and be rewarded for honest participation in the network.

By the end of the Shelley era, Cardano was expected to be 50-100 times more decentralized than other large blockchain networks. Not only that, but the entire Cardano network runs at a fraction of the power cost of equivalent proof-of-work blockchains, using the electricity equivalent of a single house, rather than a small country.

The Shelley era represents the natural maturation of the network, making it more useful, rewarding, and valuable for users new and old. It’s also about preparing for the future. Shelley set the stage for a fully distributed network, and an entirely new application ecosystem with even greater things to come in the Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire eras.


  • Mary hard fork – rolled out an update that allowed users to mint their own Cardano tokens.
  • Native Tokens
  • Consensus incentives and fees
  • Stake pools
  • Delegation certificates
  • Ouroboros Praos, Genesis, and BFT
  • Delegation in Daedalus
  • Shorter Addresses


The Goguen Era - Smart Contracts

Smart contract platform implementation and decentralized applications.

September 2020

Named after computer scientist Joseph Amadee Goguen famous for his profound contributions contribution to fuzzy set theory. Smart contract platform implementation and decentralized applications, Marlowe and Plutus introduction.

The era represents a step change in the abilities of Cardano, opening the way to the development of enterprise-level, mission-critical, decentralized smart contract applications, with even more exciting things to come during the Basho and Voltaire eras.

The work for Goguen has been done in parallel with the Shelley era to allow users from technical and non-technical backgrounds to create and execute functional smart contracts on the Cardano network. One of the key goals has been the creation of Plutus - a purpose-built language for smart contracts with execution using the functional programming language Haskell. Plutus is already available for usage and brings the benefits of functional programming to smart contract creation. Plutus also allows one code base to support both on and off-chain components, improving the coherency and usability of the development experience compared with existing smart contract implementations.

The Goguen era also makes Cardano more accessible to wider audiences via Marlowe, allowing financial and business experts with no previous technical knowledge to create smart contracts. Marlowe is a high-level, domain-specific language (DSL) for financial contracts which is built on Plutus. Marlowe comes with the Marlowe Playground, an easy-to-use application-building platform that non-programmers can use to build financial smart contracts. Together, Marlowe and the Marlowe Playground simplify the process of creating smart contracts for financial applications, allowing subject matter experts to directly contribute without requiring deep programming skills. The combination of Plutus and Marlowe enables a new class of enterprise-level smart contracts with verified functionality, capable of underpinning large-scale implementations in the real world.

As well as adding functionality in the form of smart contracts, the Goguen era also sees improvements to the core of the network. Most significantly, the addition of a multi-currency ledger will extend the usefulness of Cardano even further, enabling users to create new natively-supported tokens. This allows the creation of fungible and non-fungible tokens, supporting the creation of new cryptocurrencies on Cardano as well as the tokenization of many types of digital and physical assets. Another benefit is the easier integration of smart contracts and DApps involving multiple cryptocurrencies.


  • Alonzo hard fork
  • Marlowe language
  • Plutus and Plutus Core
  • Smart Contracts Integration
  • Multi-Currency Ledger
  • eUTXO



The Basho Era - Scaling

To be announced

Scaling, optimization, and improved performance

Named after the world-famous poet of the Edo period Matsuo Bashō, he is recognized as the greatest master of hokku.

An era of optimization, improving the scalability and interoperability of the network. Enhancing the network performance, Basho will introduce sidechains, new blockchains, interoperable with the main Cardano chain, with immense potential to extend the network’s capabilities.

The Basho era of Cardano is an era of optimization, improving the scalability and interoperability of the network. Whereas previous development eras focused on decentralization and new functionality, Basho is about improving the underlying performance of the Cardano network to better support growth and adoption for applications with high transaction volume. One of the core developments of Basho will be the introduction of sidechains: new blockchains, interoperable with the main Cardano chain, with immense potential to extend the capabilities of the network. Sidechains can be used as a sharding mechanism by off-loading work from the main chain onto a sidechain to increase the capacity of the network. They can also be used to introduce experimental features without affecting the security of the main blockchain.

Basho will also see the introduction of parallel accounting styles. While the main Cardano blockchain will continue to use a UTXO model, the ability to support and switch between UTXO and account-based models will be added using sidechains. The result will be greater interoperability for Cardano, as well as the ability to support new kinds of use cases on the network.

Overall, the Basho era will see Cardano become one of the most high-performance, resilient, and flexible blockchain platforms in the industry. This will provide network infrastructure with the capability to scale in a sustainable, secure way, as well as the ability to add new functionality without compromising the reliability at the core of the network.

We’re working on more content for this era of the roadmap and will be updating this page at an appropriate time. Meanwhile, all the latest updates on technical progress are delivered as part of the Cardano Weekly Technical Reports.


  • Hydra
  • Layer-2 solutions


The Voltaire Era - Governance

Treasury and voting systems.

To be announced

François-Marie Arouet was a French writer, historian, and philosopher who was an advocate of freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.

A development era enabled the Cardano network to become a self-sustaining system. Voltaire will introduce a voting and treasury system that will enable network participants to use their stake and voting rights to influence the future development of the blockchain.

The Voltaire era of Cardano will provide the final pieces required for the Cardano network to become a self-sustaining system. With the introduction of a voting and treasury system, network participants will be able to use their stake and voting rights to influence the future development of the network. For the Cardano network to become truly decentralized, it will require not only the distributed infrastructure introduced during the Shelley era but also the capacity to be maintained and improved over time in a decentralized way. To that end, the Voltaire era will add the ability for network participants to present Cardano improvement proposals that can be voted on by stakeholders, leveraging the already existing staking and delegation process.

To fund the future development of the network, Voltaire will also see the addition of a treasury system, whereby a fraction of all transaction fees will be pooled to provide funds for development activities undertaken following the voting process.

When both a voting and treasury system are in place, Cardano will be truly decentralized and no longer under IOHK's management. Instead, Cardano’s future will be in the hands of the community, who will have everything they need to grow and evolve Cardano from the secure, decentralized basis established by IOHK.

We’re working on more content for this era of the roadmap and will be updating this page at an appropriate time. Meanwhile, all the latest updates on technical progress are delivered as part of the Cardano Weekly Technical Reports.