Neo was founded by Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang in 2014 under the name Antshares. The original source code was published to GitHub in July 2015 and the MainNet subsequently launched in October 2016.
In 2017, Antshares was rebranded to Neo as it implemented Smart Contracts 2.0. It underwent aggressive global expansion as hundreds of new developers poured onto the blockchain. Neo leadership began distributing NEO token rewards to groups and individuals that contributed to the growth of the Neo platform. Some of the earliest groups to join Neo included COZ, NeoEconoLabs, and O3 Labs.
In 2021, Neo is being upgraded to version 3.0, known as N3. As a project that began in June 2018, the N3 upgrade represents the biggest advancement in Neo’s history. It is aimed at bringing the first all-in-one blockchain development experience to the industry, packed with powerful native features such as distributed storage, oracles, and name services. Neo N3 also boasts a simpler and more modular architecture than its predecessors, along with an improved governance and economic model.
Neo was a pioneer in the early blockchain industry. Not only was it the first public smart contract platform to be founded in China, it was also the first chain to use a dual token model and the first to implement a BFT style consensus mechanism. Further, Neo is still the first and only token sale to return all the original raised funds to its participants once the project had generated enough money to be self-sustaining.