**Author:** Cardano Foundation **Source:** [https://forum.cardano.org/t/shelley-is-delivered/36502](https://forum.cardano.org/t/shelley-is-delivered/36502)
When Cardano launched in 2017 it originated at a single point of time with the release of [Byron](https://roadmap.cardano.org/en/byron/), the value layer of the Cardano protocol and the basis of the ada cryptocurrency.
In contrast, the highly-anticipated transition to Shelley has been a gradual rollout, involving years of behind the scenes work, almost [80 peer-reviewed research papers](https://iohk.io/en/research/library/), and multiple testnet iterations.
The mainnet version of Shelley will go live today following a hard fork of the Cardano blockchain. This transition represents a major shift into a state of Cardano that will be defined by decentralization and staking, ahead of our next milestone of smart contract capabilities.
This article is the first in a series of content—both written and visual—where we will be exploring multiple aspects of Shelley’s rollout. Here, we give a high-level overview of Shelley, explain its impact on the Cardano network, and discuss what it means for stakeholders in the Cardano ecosystem.
## What does Shelley represent?
The Cardano protocol is destined to be much more than a ledger of value, and Shelley’s delivery is the next step in making Cardano the social and financial operating system of the future.
The most significant change to arise from the delivery of Shelley will be the decentralization of the Cardano blockchain. Following Shelley’s delivery, Cardano will be [50–100 times more decentralized](https://roadmap.cardano.org/en/shelley/) than other leading blockchain networks, with up to 1,000 staking pools taking an active role in consensus and governance—finally pushing voting power into the hands of the community.
Shelley will also herald the arri...