Currently, the Bitcoin Wiki states:

A part of the original Bitcoin implementation, nLockTime is a field that specifies the earliest time a transaction may be added to a valid block. A later Bitcoin soft fork allowed nLockTime to alternatively specify the lowest block height a transaction may be added to a valid block.

Is the ordering correct? It appears that the source code as of v0.1.5 used the block height and v0.1.6 extended this to handle timestamps. Also, does this new ordering make it a hard-fork?


I believe you are correct, both about the fact that height-based logic came first and time was added later, and the fact that this is a hard-forking change. A transaction with a locktime > 500000000 would not have been acceptable before the change, but possibly valid after.

Of course, given that no such transactions occurred (to the best of my knowledge), it isn't exactly a fork; but it was a change that could have led to one.

Also, before the removal of OP_VER, technically speaking every new release had a hard forking change of this nature.

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