The aptly named “The DAO” was one of the first instances of a DAO.
It was composed of intricate smart contracts that operated on top of the Ethereum blockchain and were intended to function as a self-sufficient venture fund.
The DAO tokens, which granted ownership and voting rights in this decentralized fund, were sold in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in May 2016.
A third of the cash were, however, stolen from The DAO shortly after inception in one of the worst cryptocurrency thefts ever.
As a result of this incident, Ethereum underwent a hard fork and split into two chains. In one, it appeared as though the hack never occurred because the fraudulent transactions were effectively reversed. This network is now referred to as the Ethereum blockchain.
The other chain, adhering to the maxim “code is law,” disregarded the fraudulent transactions. Ethereum Classic is the current name for this blockchain.