What is Ethereum?

  • Ethereum is a blockchain network for decentralized applications.
  • Ether is the digital currency used to fuel the Ethereum network.
  • ETH, the ticker symbol for Ether, is often used casually to reference the currency as well.
  • Ethereum facilitates decentralized applications, smart contracts, and tokenization.
    • Decentralized applications: Rather than hosting software on a server, where one central company controls user data, applications can be hosted on the Ethereum blockchain. Hosting publicly gives users control over their data as it no longer is controlled by one party.
    • Smart Contracts:  Like any other contract, two parties make an agreement about the delivery of goods or services in the future. With smart contracts, the contract is coded, once the conditions are met, it self-executes and delivers Ether to the appropriate party. 
    • Tokenization: The possibilities of tokenization are endless as they allow for both proof-of-ownership or fractional ownership. 
  • While Ethereum is currently a market leader, there is pressure to successfully execute the transition to Ethereum 2.0 and maintain current growth while many new competing blockchain networks are entering the space.
  • History of Ethereum: 
    • 2013: Ethereum was proposed by Vitalik Buterin in 2013, at the time he was the co-founder of Bitcoin magazine.  Vitalik saw the blockchain technology used for Bitcoin, as valuable beyond just digital currency.
    • 2014: Vitalik and Ethereums founders set out to create an alternative protocol for building decentralized applications and in 2014 the development of Ethereum was crowdfunded.
    • 2015: The Ethereum network went live in July 2015.
    • 2017: The technical standard for tokenization on the Ethereum network emerged, ERC-20. Companies started to take notice and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance was launched. CryptoKitties, a blockchain game built on Ethereum arrived on the scene and catapulted (no pun intended) the world of NFTs.
    • 2018: DeFi, or decentralized finance, was gaining momentum with the arrival of lending protocol Compound and decentralized exchange Uniswap.
    • 2020: The focus has been on Ethereum 2.0 upgrades. As part of Ethereum 2.0, the network will move from a proof of work consensus to a more sustainable & scalable consensus, Proof of Stake. 
    • 2021: Ether is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap with an all-time high of $4196. Approximately 3,000 applications currently run on Ethereum, with over 2,300 average monthly developers working to maintain and launch new decentralized applications.
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What is Ethereum?
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