The NFT community has been humming in 2023 after the recent rise in Bitcoin NFT mints. Ordinals, a non-fungible token (“NFT”) protocol, sent the community buzzing in January 2023 when it launched on the Bitcoin blockchain (as updated by soft forks in the protocol in 2017 and 2021, which among other things, added new features to the blockchain and increased the block size from 1MB to 4MB and allowed for the inscription of data). Bitcoin evangelists – true believers in Bitcoin as hard money – appreciate that the Bitcoin blockchain’s development is optimized for non-censorable, decentralized money but not file storage and consider Ordinals as immutable JPEG garbage that will only create network congestion, thereby increasing fees, and should be viewed as beneath the original peer-to-peer mission. Conversely, NFT enthusiasts and the blockchain curious are celebrating Bitcoin’s NFT scene as an innovative use of the chain: unlike traditional Ethereum-based NFTs (where the original underlying asset generally resides on a centralized server or the IPFS), Ordinals reside on-chain.  Needless to say, the rise of NFTs on the original blockchain is not without questions.

This article is Part I of a two-part article on Ordinals. In this part, we will break down Ordinals, explaining Ordinal Theory, ins-and-outs and functions. In Part II, we will dive into the implications of having NFTs on two separate blockchains.