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Ethereum

A decentralized blockchain with smart contract functionality
Ethereum
Leadership team

Vitalik Buterin (Founder)

Gavin Wood (Founder)

Joseph Lubin (Founder)

Ming Chan (Executive Director )

Hudson Jameson (Core Developer )

Year stablished
2015
Social Media
Summary

Ethereum is a decentralized blockchain platform renowned for its smart contract capabilities, utilizing its native cryptocurrency, Ether (ETH). Ether ranks second only to Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization and is supported by open-source software.

The concept of Ethereum was initiated in 2013 by programmer Vitalik Buterin, with notable contributions from founders like Gavin Wood, Charles Hoskinson, Anthony Di Iorio, and Joseph Lubin. Development commenced in 2014, fueled by crowdfunding, and the network officially launched on July 30, 2015.

Ethereum's distinguishing feature is its ability to enable the deployment of permanent and immutable decentralized applications (dApps) accessible to users. These dApps can offer decentralized finance (DeFi) solutions, allowing users to engage in financial activities without the need for traditional intermediaries like banks or brokerages. This facilitates activities like borrowing against cryptocurrencies or earning interest through lending.

Furthermore, Ethereum supports the creation and exchange of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), representing unique digital assets such as images. Many other cryptocurrencies have adopted the ERC-20 token standard on the Ethereum blockchain, leveraging the platform for initial coin offerings (ICOs).

A significant milestone occurred on September 15, 2022, when Ethereum transitioned from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism in an upgrade known as "the Merge." This transition drastically reduced Ethereum's energy consumption by 99%, aligning with sustainability goals.


History

Founding (2013–2014)

The inception of Ethereum can be traced back to late 2013 when Vitalik Buterin, a programmer and co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine, unveiled a groundbreaking white paper. This document introduced the concept of building decentralized applications, proposing a novel approach beyond cryptocurrency applications for blockchain technology. Buterin's vision was to create a more versatile platform with a robust programming language capable of attaching real-world assets, such as stocks and property, to the blockchain.

During this period, Buterin collaborated briefly with eToro CEO Yoni Assia on the Colored Coins project, which explored additional use cases for blockchain technology. However, the project's direction remained uncertain due to disagreements, leading Buterin to propose the development of a new platform with a more sophisticated scripting language, eventually becoming Ethereum.

Ethereum was officially announced at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami in January 2014. Notably, key figures including Gavin Wood, Charles Hoskinson, and Anthony Di Iorio, who financed the project, gathered to explore the potential of Ethereum. This gathering in Miami marked the beginning of Ethereum's journey. Soon after, Joseph Lubin joined the team, and the project's non-profit status was established during a meeting in Zug, Switzerland. Charles Hoskinson departed from the project around this time and went on to found IOHK, a blockchain company responsible for Cardano.

Ethereum boasts an extensive list of founders, including names like Anthony Di Iorio, Joseph Lubin, Gavin Wood, and Jeffrey Wilcke, who joined the initial five co-founders in early 2014. The name "Ethereum" was chosen by Vitalik Buterin after considering various science fiction elements. It resonated with him due to its pleasant sound and the inclusion of "ether," a term referring to the hypothetical invisible medium that permeates the universe and allows light to travel. Buterin envisioned Ethereum as the underlying and virtually imperceptible medium for applications running atop it.

Development (2014)

Formal development of Ethereum's software commenced in early 2014 through Ethereum Switzerland GmbH (EthSuisse), a Swiss company. Gavin Wood, Ethereum's Chief Technology Officer at the time, played a pivotal role in specifying the Ethereum Virtual Machine through the Ethereum Yellow Paper. Subsequently, the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss non-profit, was established to oversee development. To fund development, a public crowd sale took place from July to August 2014, during which participants acquired Ether (ETH) tokens using Bitcoin. This period saw enthusiasm for Ethereum's technical innovations, yet concerns arose regarding its security and scalability.

Launch and the DAO Event (2014–2016)

Over 18 months in 2014 and 2015, the Ethereum Foundation developed several codenamed prototypes as part of their proof-of-concept series. The final prototype, "Olympic," was released as a public beta pre-release. To incentivize stress-testing of the Ethereum blockchain, the Olympic network offered a bug bounty of 25,000 ether.

On July 30, 2015, "Frontier" marked the official launch of the Ethereum platform. This launch included the creation of Ethereum's "genesis block," which contained 8,893 transactions allocating varying amounts of ether to different addresses, along with a block reward of 5 ETH.

Subsequent to the initial launch, Ethereum underwent planned protocol upgrades, involving significant changes to the platform's functionality and incentive structures, often achieved through hard forks.

In 2016, a decentralized autonomous organization known as The DAO, built on Ethereum, raised a remarkable $150 million in a crowd sale. However, in June 2016, an unknown hacker exploited The DAO, stealing $50 million worth of DAO tokens. This event sparked a heated debate within the crypto community about whether Ethereum should execute a contentious "hard fork" to recover the stolen funds. Ultimately, the network split into two blockchains: Ethereum, where the theft was reversed, and Ethereum Classic, which continued on the original chain.

Continued Development and Milestones (2017–present)

In March 2017, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) was established, featuring various blockchain startups, research groups, and Fortune 500 companies among its founding members. By May 2017, the EEA boasted 116 enterprise members, with significant corporations like Microsoft, Intel, and J.P. Morgan participating. This alliance continued to grow, attracting more than 150 members, including MasterCard, Cisco Systems, Sberbank, and Scotiabank, by July 2017.

As of January 2018, Ether ranked as the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, trailing only Bitcoin. This ranking persisted through 2021.

In 2019, Ethereum Foundation employee Virgil Griffith was arrested for presenting at a blockchain conference in North Korea, leading to legal proceedings that concluded in 2021.

In March 2021, Visa Inc. announced its initiation of stablecoin transactions using Ethereum. Additionally, major financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase and UBS announced a $65 million investment in ConsenSys, a software development firm focused on Ethereum-related infrastructure.

Ethereum experienced two network upgrades in 2021, "Berlin" in April and "London" in August. The latter included Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1559, a mechanism designed to reduce transaction fee volatility, which burns a portion of the ether paid in transaction fees, potentially leading to periods of deflation.

Ethereum 2.0

Ethereum 2.0, also known as Eth2, represents a series of upgrades intended to transition Ethereum's consensus mechanism from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. This transition has substantially reduced Ethereum's energy consumption. However, the broader implications for global energy usage and climate change may be limited, as the computers previously used for mining Ether could be redirected to mine other energy-intensive cryptocurrencies.


Goals and Purpose

Ethereum, since its inception, has been driven by a set of overarching goals and purposes that extend beyond traditional cryptocurrency use cases. These objectives have shaped Ethereum's development and its role in the blockchain and decentralized technology space:

Decentralization: Ethereum's primary goal is to promote decentralization, reducing the control and influence of centralized authorities. By providing a decentralized platform for applications, Ethereum aims to empower individuals and communities, ensuring that no single entity has undue power over the network.

Smart Contracts: Ethereum seeks to enable the creation and execution of smart contracts, self-executing agreements with the terms of the contract directly written into code. This feature opens up a wide range of applications across various industries, from finance to real estate, without the need for intermediaries.

DApp Development: Ethereum's purpose includes facilitating the development of decentralized applications (DApps). These DApps run on the Ethereum blockchain, offering users increased security, transparency, and censorship resistance. Developers can harness Ethereum's infrastructure to build innovative solutions.

Interoperability: Ethereum aims to foster interoperability between different blockchains and technologies. By developing standards like the ERC-20 token standard, Ethereum has become a fundamental bridge for connecting various blockchain ecosystems, fostering a more interconnected and versatile blockchain landscape.

Financial Inclusion: Ethereum is committed to financial inclusion, providing access to financial services for individuals who are traditionally underserved or excluded from the banking system. Through DeFi applications, Ethereum allows users to engage in lending, borrowing, trading, and other financial activities without relying on traditional intermediaries.

Tokenization: Ethereum supports the tokenization of assets, enabling the representation of real-world assets like real estate, art, and stocks as digital tokens on the blockchain. This enhances liquidity, divisibility, and accessibility of these assets, potentially revolutionizing how ownership and value are transferred.

Innovation: Ethereum is a hotbed for innovation. It encourages developers and entrepreneurs to experiment with new ideas and concepts, fostering an environment of rapid technological evolution. This innovation has led to the emergence of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), and more.


Impact

Ethereum has made profound impacts on various aspects of the digital and financial landscape:

Blockchain Innovation: Ethereum pioneered the concept of smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps), revolutionizing how blockchain technology is utilized beyond cryptocurrencies.

Decentralization: Ethereum has contributed to the decentralization of power by enabling individuals and communities to create and control applications and assets without relying on central authorities.

DeFi Revolution: Ethereum's platform has given rise to the decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem, which provides access to a wide range of financial services, including lending, trading, and yield farming, without traditional intermediaries.

Tokenization of Assets: Ethereum has led the way in tokenizing real-world assets, making it easier to trade and transfer ownership of assets like art, real estate, and stocks.

Interoperability: Ethereum's standards and protocols have enhanced interoperability between different blockchain networks, promoting a more connected and collaborative blockchain ecosystem.


References
Ethereum
Leadership team

Vitalik Buterin (Founder)

Gavin Wood (Founder)

Joseph Lubin (Founder)

Ming Chan (Executive Director )

Hudson Jameson (Core Developer )

Year stablished
2015
Social Media