Altcoins refer to all cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin. A significant number of altcoins are derived from bitcoin through forks, which create variations of the original cryptocurrency.
The term "altcoin" is formed from two words: "alt" and "coin." "Alt" is an abbreviation for alternative, while "coin" refers to currency. This name is derived from the fact that bitcoin is regarded as the original cryptocurrency, with all others being regarded as alternative or alternate coins. Together, they denote digital currencies that serve as alternatives to bitcoin.
Numerous altcoins have emerged since the inception of cryptocurrencies, but bitcoin still remains the most prominent and widely accepted digital asset. The term "altcoin" is also used to refer to digital assets that are technically classified as tokens rather than coins. The most popular examples are ERC-20 tokens that operate on the Ethereum blockchain.
Since the introduction of bitcoin in 2008, over 2,000 alternative cryptocurrencies have been created. Many of these altcoins are hard forks of bitcoin, which involve modifying the original codebase to produce a new blockchain. Although altcoins share similarities with bitcoin, each has its unique features and functionalities.