An Introduction to Ethereum

An Introduction to Ethereum

If you’re a fan of Ethereum, you’ll love this article! If you’re not sure what Ethereum is but want to learn, this article is perfect! 

A Brief History of Ethereum takes an in-depth look at the origins of Ethereum, its history, and its development team so that you can better understand what it means to be part of this growing blockchain and cryptocurrency community.

What Is Ethereum?

Before we get into a history lesson, you might be wondering: What is Ethereum? First introduced by Vitalik Buterin in 2013, ether is a digital currency that can be transferred between users and acts as an incentive for developers to build apps on top of its decentralized platform. 

The goal is to create a censorship-resistant world computer where applications are built on multiple computers across networks. 

Unlike storing data on one server (like with Facebook), multiple thousands (or millions) could potentially hold copies of data across their respective nodes. 

Where that idea might break down, however, is if governments decide it violates local privacy laws or if hackers steal your information from one node and use it against you in another. In other words, there are risks involved.

Vitalik Buterin

In 2013, Vitalik was an unknown 18-year-old Canadian college student studying computer science at McGill University. 

He had seen firsthand how powerful Bitcoin could be when he saw his peers adopt it for online gambling and purchasing contraband goods on Silk Road. 

Buterin thought it was obvious to create a more powerful, advanced blockchain that would allow users to build decentralized applications capable of more than just sending money from point A to point B. 

He had a vision for how such a platform could work. Vitalik decided to take action and started writing what would eventually become one of his most significant contributions: an Ethereum white paper outlining what needed to be done to achieve his goal.

Ethereum Foundation

The Ethereum Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Zug, Switzerland that promotes and supports research, development, and education related to blockchain technology and decentralized protocols. The foundation oversees some core development projects, as well as research projects. 

It also works with individual developers on crypto-economic research and formal verification of smart contracts. Some core development teams working under its banner include pyethereum (Ethereum’s Python client), CPP-Ethereum (its C++ implementation), and others which are mostly not packaged by default.

Ether (the currency)

Ether is an integral part of what makes Ethereum tick. It’s a digital currency that can pay for transaction fees and computational services on the network. 

Miners who verify blocks are rewarded in ether, while developers are compensated with ether for contributing to open-source projects. On top of being a tradeable cryptocurrency, it also acts as gas for transactions on Ethereum’s network, paying for computation and storage costs. 

Since its launch in 2015, it has steadily gained interest and skyrocketed in value; by 2017, its market cap was around USD 8 billion. In October 2017 alone, its price increased by over 3200%.

Solidity (the programming language)

Solidity was created by Gavin Wood, Christian Reitwiessner, Alex Beregszaszi, Liana Husikyan, and several former Ethereum developers.

C++, Python, and JavaScript inspire solidity. Solidity features include:

  • Type checking.
  • Function modifiers (abstract and external).
  • Libraries.
  • A contract-oriented programming model. 

The Solidity Contract-Oriented Programming Language for Smart Contracts: Design Rationale & Syntax Hacking Distributed – Solidity is a statically typed language with type inference.

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are at heart software programs that encode certain conditions and outcomes. 

They run on decentralized blockchain networks and can be programmed to trigger when predetermined criteria are met. They act as agreements that execute themselves based on pre-defined rules and input. 

These smart contracts also help reduce counterparty risk – a common issue in traditional contract negotiations – requiring all parties to sign digitally whenever a transaction is made. 

This makes it easier for everyone to keep track of transactions, see who has paid whom, and ultimately remove uncertainty about who should receive what. 

As opposed to conventional contracts, smart contracts are binding once they’re deployed onto a blockchain network but carry no other costs or inconveniences since they don’t require intermediaries or centralized processing systems.

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About the author

Mighil is the head of Content and Growth at Minoid. He writes about the web3 industry updates and trends.