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Ergo has a Bitcoin-like UTXO transactional model: transactions spend and create one-time objects.

We call this object a 'box'.


  • A box is an immutable object which can only be created or removed.
  • A box is not simply a coin; it contains data, code and registers. Even more, there's nothing in the box but registers.
  • There are four predefined registers, with monetary value, protecting script, and an identifier of a transaction which created the box.
  • Because the data of the transaction that created the box is included, the box has unique contents and, therefore, a unique id.
  • Boxes are first-class citizens in the Ergo protocol.
  • The active boxes set is authenticated via a hash-based data structure, which allows building lightweight full-nodes (as described in this paper).
  • A box may have up to six additional registers with typed data. A script may access its registers (as well as registers of input and output boxes of the spending transaction).
  • Transactions contain both input and output boxes.


As an example of a box. We take the proof-of-no-premine from Ergo genesis state, which contains the last block ids from Bitcoin and Ethereum at the moment of launch, and also the latest news headlines:

    "boxId": "b8ce8cfe331e5eadfb0783bdc375c94413433f65e1e45857d71550d42e4d83bd",
    "value": 1000000000,
    "ergoTree": "10010100d17300",
    "assets": [],
    "creationHeight": 0,
    "additionalRegisters": {
      "R5": "0e42307864303761393732393334363864393133326335613261646162326535326132333030396536373938363038653437623064323632336337653365393233343633",
      "R6": "0e464272657869743a20626f746820546f727920736964657320706c617920646f776e207269736b206f66206e6f2d6465616c20616674657220627573696e65737320616c61726d",
      "R8": "0e45d094d0b8d0b2d0b8d0b4d0b5d0bdd0b4d18b20d0a7d0a2d09fd09720d0b2d18bd180d0b0d181d182d183d18220d0bdd0b02033332520d0bdd0b020d0b0d0bad186d0b8d18e",
      "R7": "0e54e8bfb0e8af84efbc9ae5b9b3e8a1a1e38081e68c81e7bbade38081e58c85e5aeb9e28094e28094e696b0e697b6e4bba3e5ba94e5afb9e585a8e79083e58c96e68c91e68898e79a84e4b8ade59bbde4b98be98193",
      "R4": "0e4030303030303030303030303030303030303031346332653265376533336435316165376536366636636362363934326333343337313237623336633333373437"


A box, at the minimum, has four pieces of information.

  1. The value in NanoErgs (1 Erg = 1000000000 NanoErgs).
  2. The guard script (like scriptPubKey of Bitcoin). (aka the "smart contract.") which protects the spending of the box.
  3. Additional assets (tokens) are stored in this box.
  4. Creation info of the box (txId, the transaction identifier that created the box, along with an output index). It also contains a maxCreation height parameter defined by the box creator (this is not the creation height; its use is to create "payment channels easily").

These are stored in the first four registers of the box, leaving (R4-R9) to store custom data for use in smart contracts.

Optional Registers#

Register Value
R0 Value (in nanoErgs as Base58)
R1 Guard script (Smart Contract)
R2 Assets (tokens)
R3 Creation info
R4 Available for use
R5 Available for use
R6 Available for use
R7 Available for use
R8 Available for use
R9 Available for use

Registers must be densely packed; we cannot sandwich empty registers between non-empty ones. The optional registers can contain data of any of the following types:

  • Int, Long with the usual semantics of Scala. BigInt is a 256-bit integer (i.e., all computation is done modulo 2^256).
  • GroupElement, a point on the Secp256k1 curve represented in compressed format.
  • Coll[Byte], a collection of bytes, semantically similar to Array[Byte] in Scala.
  • Collection of the above, i.e., Coll[Int], Coll[GroupElement], Coll[Coll[Byte]], etc.
  • A boxId is calculated based on the contents of all the registers. This boxId uniquely defines a box and can be considered equivalent to Bitcoin's (txId, vOut) pairs.

Note that Ergo txId depends only on the message and not on signatures (similar to Bitcoin SegWit transactions). Hence, a txId is available even before signing. Like Bitcoin, Ergo supports chained transactions (i.e., spending of boxes with 0 confirmations).