Niall Yorke

Unveiling the Ethereum Wayback Machine: Building for Ethereum's Future

Today, we are excited to introduce the Ethereum Wayback Machine (EWM)—a novel solution that addresses the critical need for sustained access to historical blockchain data. In this blog post, we'll explore why the Ethereum Wayback Machine matters, its impact on the blockchain ecosystem, and how it's shaping the future of the Ethereum ecosystem.

Download the paper here.

Ethereum's Evolution into the Rollup Era

Ethereum is currently undergoing a significant transformation. With the onset of the "Rollup Era," Ethereum is moving away from storing archival data within clients. This shift is accompanied by the introduction of state expiry, where data blobs required for validation are deleted after a specific period, typically one to three months. The client henceforth will only be responsible for state execution and propagation, and the historical state will be outsourced to an outside infrastructure actor. While these changes are instrumental in improving Ethereum's efficiency and scalability, they present a challenge—ensuring the continued accessibility of historical blockchain data while relying on rent-seeking, centralized intermediaries.

Recognizing these changes within Ethereum, the Covalent Network steps in as a key solution. As Ethereum evolves and its data storage methods change, the Covalent Network is committed to providing archival data for a wide range of parties who rely on this information.

Why Long-Term Data Availability Matters

Before delving into the Ethereum Wayback Machine, let's first understand why long-term data availability is crucial. Think of blockchain data as the historical, immutable record of transactions, smart contracts, and activities on the Ethereum network. This data serves multiple purposes:

  • Transparency: It allows anyone to access and analyze the full historical transaction record.

  • Regulatory Compliance: Regulators may require access to historical data to investigate potential fraud or illegal activities.

  • Investment Strategy: Investors and stakeholders rely on historical data to make informed decisions about blockchain-based activities.

  • Adoption: Developers may hesitate to build on a network with limited historical data accessibility, hindering the adoption of blockchain technology.

Without a solution like the Ethereum Wayback Machine, the blockchain ecosystem could face reduced growth and impact, limiting its potential applications and use cases. In essence, the EWM plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Ethereum continues to thrive and remains a robust platform for innovation.

Introducing the Ethereum Wayback Machine (EWM)

The Ethereum Wayback Machine is the answer to the long-term data availability challenge. It's an open-source solution that empowers developers, researchers, and ecosystem participants to access enriched and cryptographically secure historical data without relying on centralized, rent-seeking intermediaries.

At its core, the EWM comprises two key components:

  1. Block Specimens Producer (BSP): This innovative technology securely extracts data from blockchains using cryptographic proofs. It's seamlessly integrated with popular Ethereum clients like Geth and offers two modes—historical extraction for archival data and synchronous mode for real-time data. The output, known as "Block Specimens," provides a robust representation of blockchain data.

  2. Block Results Producer (BRPs): The Refiner is a concurrent block re-execution framework that enriches Block Specimens. Among its many outputs are Block Results, one-to-one representations of block data obtained from an RPC call to a blockchain node. These results can include optional and additional fields.

How the Ethereum Wayback Machine Works

The Ethereum Wayback Machine leverages the Covalent Network to ensure the accessibility and availability of historical blockchain data. By using BSPs and BRPs, developers can reconstruct a comprehensive representation of a blockchain and create databases with normalized schemas. Here's what makes the EWM stand out:

  • Decentralized: The EWM addresses concerns of censorship risks by providing historical data through a decentralized network.

  • Removing the RPC Bottleneck: Innovative technologies like Block Specimens and Block Results eliminate limitations associated with querying the RPC layer for data.

  • Secured via Proofs: Cryptographic proofs ensure data integrity, allowing participants to verify the accuracy of the provided data.

  • Enrichment: The EWM offers enrichment capabilities, such as contract tracing and off-chain NFT metadata, empowering developers and users with in-depth insights and analytics.

Looking Ahead to Ethereum's Future

The integration of Ethereum Rollups for scalability and the Ethereum Wayback Machine for efficient data retrieval is a transformative combination. This synergy enables true scalability for writing and reading Ethereum blockchain data. Developers can harness Ethereum's potential without facing scalability bottlenecks, making it an ideal platform for innovative and sustainable Web 3 solutions.

The Ethereum Wayback Machine represents a significant milestone in the blockchain ecosystem. It ensures that Ethereum's historical data remains accessible and valuable for various applications, from taxation and auditing to AI models and regulatory compliance. The EWM's decentralized approach, scalability enhancements, and data integrity mechanisms make it an indispensable ally in Ethereum's journey forward.

Explore the EWM Further

Are you eager to explore the Ethereum Wayback Machine further? Download the full paper to gain in-depth insights into this revolutionary solution and discover how it's shaping the future of Ethereum.

Stay tuned for more updates and developments as we continue to build for Ethereum's promising future.

About Covalent:

Covalent provides the industry-leading Unified API bringing visibility to billions of Web3 data points. Developers and analysts use Covalent to build exciting multi-chain applications like crypto wallets, NFT galleries, and investor dashboard tools utilizing data from 232+ blockchains. Covalent is trusted by a community of 40,000+ developers and powers data for 5,000+ applications, including 0x, Rainbow Wallet, NFTX,, StakeKit many others.