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TON Open Network: From Russia to China with a Stop in the USA

Alex Grace

Alex Grace

March 11, 2021

4 min read

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The project failed but despite it, TON blockchain was still launched. It will celebrate the first anniversary soon. So let us recall the whole history and see what is happening now.

A step back in history

The first mention of TON was made in 2017. It became known that the Durov brothers (Russian entrepreneurs, founders of Vkontakte and Telegram) started a new blockchain-based project. But confirmation appeared only in 2018. Then there was information about a new type of consensus named Catchain. In February 2020 Nikolai Durov lays out the details:

«It’s a Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) protocol specifically crafted for block generation and validation in the TON Blockchain. This protocol can potentially be used for purposes other than block generation in a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain; however, the current implementation uses some optimizations valid only for this specific problem».

It is important for some blockchains to keep working even if several nodes are malicious. Catchain and other BFT algorithms solve this problem: they work for as long as one-third of nodes work correctly.

Similar systems:

Opposite systems:

In the systems proposed by Ethereum and Cardano, blocks are easy to produce, but must be then reconciled through fork resolution.
The description of the system was quite credible, and investors were awaiting the launch of the project. As it became known, Russian politician and businessman Mikhail Abyzov and billionaire Roman Abramovich invested in TON. As well as Lauren Powell Jobs (according to unconfirmed reports). In total, $1.7 billion was raised for the development of TON.

Testing started in 2019 and was quite successful. However, an anti-hero suddenly appeared. It was The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).


We recall that on October 11, the SEC, through a federal court, imposed a ban on the distribution of the Gram cryptocurrency among investors. The Commission believes that tokens are securities, and Telegram violated US law during the ICO. The launch deadline was October 31, but for that reason it wasn’t complete on time.

The founders set a new launch date twice, and investors agreed to give Telegram Open Network a second chance. But founders lost the case against the SEC.
As a result, the parties came to an amicable agreement: the TON project was officially closed by its founders. The issue of payments to investors is now being resolved. However, the closure of the project surprisingly led to the launch of the TON blockchain.

The new history

In May 2020, the main components of TON OS (including software for running TON validators) were published under a free software license.
Later, a decentralized token and other components were added. The TON ecosystem has been called one of the most well-developed blockchains of its time.
By May 2020, some of the experts involved in the project, led by the main developer TON Labs, were ready to launch the network on their own. After the official closure, the project was renamed as “Free TON” and finally launched.
There is also an opinion that Free TON is a fork of TON. But this is not right because the second one was never launched. Free TON is the original blockchain.

Free TON has currently been developed by the community and has no legal structure. The project did not attract investors and had no ICO: the distribution of tokens provided through competitions. The Telegram Open Network tries to achieve the maximum of decentralization.

BSN integration

In March 2021, TON Labs became a partner of China's state blockchain platform Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN). BSN is now planning to integrate several public blockchains and use their tokens in China legally as a currency. BSN originally had an ambitious plan to become a "blockchain internet" and talked about adding 100 networks including digital yuan. The first integrations were made in August 2020; Polkadot, Oazis и Bityuan are among them.

Alex Grace

Alex Grace

March 11, 2021

4 min read