The term ‘Ethereum’ is thrown around casually to refer to many things. Is it a blockchain? An open-source computing platform? A cryptocurrency? Similarly, many people have heard of Vitalik Buterin in connection with Ethereum, but the role of other important figures remains largely unknown. This explainer breaks down the most important information about Ethereum.
Blockchain vs Cryptocurrency
Firstly, there is an important distinction between Ethereum (the blockchain network) and Ether(the cryptocurrency). Ethereum is often used to mean both of these things, but it technically refers to a decentralized, open-source blockchain computing network upon which developers can create dApps, DeFi systems, NFTs, and even other cryptocurrencies.
Ether (ETH) is the cryptocurrency that the Ethereum system uses for transactions (based on operation fees called ‘gas’).
The concept of Ethereum was first outlined in a 2013 whitepaper by Vitalik Buterin. It was intended to be a superior cryptocurrency to Bitcoin, allowing secure and decentralized financial programs to be developed by anyone. The project was crowdfunded in 2014 via donations of Bitcoin and an ICO, and the blockchain was launched in July 2015. It has been regularly updated since then, most recently with the London hard fork in 2021.
Ethereum was actually founded by eight individuals who met in Switzerland, on June 7, 2014. Russian-Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin was just 19 years old at the time and is still one of the most well-known personalities in crypto. Another key figure was Gavin Wood, a British programmer who led the coding of the Ethereum network and served as the Ethereum foundation’s first CTO before founding other crypto ventures. Other Ethereum co-founders include Anthony Di Iorio, Joseph Lubin, Charles Hoskinson, Mihai Alisie, and Amir Chetrit. Many Ethereum co-founders continue to be influential in the blockchain world today.
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