What is ICP? Everything you need to know about Internet Computer

Anton Ioffe - January 20th 2024 - 6 minutes read

Embark on a compelling journey through the realm of Internet Computer (ICP), where innovation meets the transformative potential of blockchain technology. As we unravel the enigmatic world of ICP, prepare to immerse yourself in the intricate workings of its revolutionary serverless cloud model, unveil the genius of Chain Key cryptography, and grasp the game-changing implications of its unique offerings in the digital landscape. From its visionary origins to its current standing in the blockchain arena, this article offers an incisive exploration into the technical prowess, staking mechanisms, and the unprecedented vision driving one of the most audacious projects in the tech ecosystem. Join us as we delve into the depths of ICP, presenting a narrative that beckons the curiosity of tech enthusiasts, investors, and trailblazers alike on the frontier of decentralized innovation.

Deciphering the Technical Edge of Internet Computer (ICP)

At the heart of the Internet Computer is its serverless cloud model, a revolutionary framework that departs from traditional cloud services. The model operates seamlessly over the open internet by integrating the computational capacities of specialized machines, hosted within independent data centers globally. Unlike centralized systems, these independent data centers work cohesively to provide an infrastructure that is not only decentralized but also eliminates the need for intermediary services like firewalls. This mechanistic symphony is orchestrated by software canisters—self-contained code units—that house WebAssembly bytecode and the memory pages it operates within. Impressively, there is no theoretical cap to the number of canisters that the Internet Computer can support, unlocking unprecedented scalability for developers to deploy and manage their applications directly on the blockchain network.

The Chain Key technology is the fulcrum that empowers the Internet Computer’s operation, offering a breakthrough in security through advanced cryptographic models. Chain Key cryptography is not just one algorithm but an intricate constellation of protocols enabling seamless and secure interaction on the ICP network. This system ensures that all computers in the network can independently authenticate each piece of data, virtually eliminating the possibility of injecting malicious content. Such a high degree of security, combined with the efficiency and infinite scalability of the protocol, makes the Internet Computer not only robust but also an efficient alternative to traditional data processing methods.

Two critical components of this ecosystem are the Network Nervous System (NNS) and Internet Identity (IID). The NNS is a decentralized algorithmic governance system that autonomously manages the Internet Computer, overseeing everything from economics to network structures. The IID, on the other hand, is an anonymous, blockchain-based authentication framework that enhances the decentralization aspect of Identity verification. These two systems together fortify the Internet Computer’s ability to offer a secure and resilient environment for building and hosting applications. They are instrumental in establishing trust among network participants and ensuring operational efficiency, without sacrificing user privacy or security. With such robust technology backing it, the Internet Computer presents an exciting frontier for decentralized and secure internet services.

The Foundational Journey and Vision of ICP

The odyssey of the Internet Computer project, marking a revolutionary chapter for the internet, began in 2015 under the aegis of the Dfinity Foundation, helmed by Dominic Williams. Charged with the mission to transform the internet into a universal computing platform, Dfinity set forth to craft a blockchain-based framework to support hack-proof software and spearhead new internet services. This groundbreaking initiative sought to disrupt the existing $3.6 trillion IT colossus while propelling the transition to Web 3.0, attracting substantial support with $167 million raised from revered investors like Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain.

Dominic Williams, equipped with a track record of leadership at String Labs and a first-class honors degree in computer science from King's College London, had a firm determination to dismantle Big Tech’s clout. His resolution birthed the Internet Computer, envisioned as a resilient, swift, and scalable platform to serve billions, intended to displace the power of tech giants and foster a new breed of autonomous software. With the 2020 initiation of the Mercury milestone, a key developmental triumph, the Internet Computer signaled a turning point, ushering in a new phase in its progress.

In the intellectually rich environment of Zug, Switzerland, along with its satellite research centers in Palo Alto and San Francisco, the Dfinity Foundation’s team of over 188 experts committed to bringing the Internet Computer to fruition. This consortium of visionaries has steadfastly pursued the principles of decentralization, providing developers the tools to create and deploy applications worldwide seamlessly. Their collective efforts have constructed the cornerstone of a rejuvenated digital realm, teeming with innovation and democratic opportunity.

Staking on the Internet Computer: From Concepts to Practice

Staking ICP tokens is rooted in the platform's unique Threshold Relay consensus mechanism, an iteration of the Proof of Stake (PoS) model that is geared towards high energy efficiency. To begin staking, a user needs to engage with the Internet Computer's governance system which can be done by setting up the necessary software infrastructure prescribed by the protocol. Once in place, participants can stake their ICP tokens, effectively committing them as part of the governance process. These staked tokens create neurons, which are crucial for engaging in the governance of the network—allowing users to vote on proposals and direct the evolution of the Internet Computer.

By creating neurons, users signal a commitment to the network's wellbeing, with tokens locked in for varying periods of time. This commitment not only underpins the robustness of the ecosystem but also entitles stakers to prospective rewards, which are designed to increase with the length of the staking period, thus incentivizing a long-term investment and active participation in the network.

The staking process culminates when participants transfer their ICP tokens to the appropriate wallet, as guided by the ecosystem's protocols, ensuring the tokens are correctly deposited and ready for staking. Following this, by navigating through the dedicated options made available by the system, users can finalize the staking of their neurons. Through these actions, stakers gain both a financial and a governance stake in the future of the Internet Computer, contributing to the network's overarching aim of decentralized and democratic governance.

ICP's Distinct Position in the Blockchain Landscape

When comparing ICP to stalwarts like Ethereum, one cannot overlook the groundbreaking approach of Canister smart contracts. These advanced digital constructs enable developers to achieve a level of scalability previously unrealizable, effectively allowing the Internet Computer to host unlimited smart contracts that can operate at web speed. This contrasts starkly with the limited scalability that haunts Ethereum, where network congestion often leads to exorbitant gas fees and slower transaction times. In essence, ICP's ambitious design aims to facilitate an internet-scale blockchain ecosystem, enabling both the construction and hosting of applications in an environment unencumbered by the scalability challenges that affect traditional blockchains.

However, the novelty of ICP does bring its share of uncertainties. Although the promise of unbounded scalability and speed is alluring, the relative infancy of ICP in the market means that it has yet to endure the rigorous test of time and widespread adoption which solidify trust in a blockchain network. Ethereum, despite its limitations, benefits from a vibrant developer community, a wealth of applications, and a proven track record—factors that ICP will need to cultivate for sustained credibility. Thus, developers and investors must weigh the potential of groundbreaking performance against the proven stability and maturity of established blockchain ecosystems.

ICP's distinct position doesn't merely rest on its technical prowess; it's also centered on an ideology that challenges current internet paradigms. By positioning itself as not just an Ethereum complement but also as a futuristic blueprint for the decentralization of the internet, it aspires to redistribute the centralized control held by tech conglomerates. The underlying philosophy propels ICP to the forefront as a flag-bearer for a new era, where data and identity authentication are decentralized and open autonomous internet services can thrive. This "cypherspace" could redefine user engagement and ownership, democratizing the digital landscape and potentially upending how digital services operate.


The article explores the world of Internet Computer (ICP) and its revolutionary serverless cloud model, Chain Key cryptography, and unique offerings. It delves into the technical aspects of ICP, including the serverless cloud model and Chain Key technology, highlighting their benefits. It discusses the visionary origins and mission of ICP, emphasizing its potential to disrupt the IT industry and transition to Web 3.0. The article also explains the staking process on the Internet Computer and the distinct position of ICP in the blockchain landscape. It concludes by highlighting the ideology and philosophy behind ICP, highlighting its potential to decentralize the internet and democratize digital services.