What is Ethereum? Ethereum (ETH) is a smart contract platform that enables developers to build decentralized applications (dapps) conceptualized by Vitalik Buterin in 2013. ETH is the native currency for the Ethereum platform and also works as the transaction fees to miners on the Ethereum network.
Ethereum is the pioneer for blockchain based smart contracts. When running on the blockchain a smart contract becomes like a self-operating computer program that automatically executes when specific conditions are met. On the blockchain, smart contracts allow for code to be run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference. It can facilitate the exchange of money, content, property, shares, or anything of value. The Ethereum network went live on July 30th, 2015 with 72 million Ethereum premined.
Like other blockchains, Ethereum has a native cryptocurrency called Ether (ETH). ETH is digital money. If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, ETH has many of the same features. It is purely digital, and can be sent to anyone anywhere in the world instantly. The supply of ETH isn’t controlled by any government or company – it is decentralized, and it is scarce. People all over the world use ETH to make payments, as a store of value, or as collateral.
But unlike other blockchains, Ethereum can do much more. Ethereum is programmable, which means that developers can use it to build new kinds of applications. These decentralized applications (or “dapps”) gain the benefits of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. They can be trustworthy, meaning that once they are “uploaded” to Ethereum, they will always run as programmed. They can control digital assets in order to create new kinds of financial applications. They can be decentralized, meaning that no single entity or person controls them.
Right now, thousands of developers all over the world are building applications on Ethereum, and inventing new kinds of applications, many of which you can use today:
– Cryptocurrency wallets that let you make cheap, instant payments with ETH or other assets
– Financial applications that let you borrow, lend, or invest your digital assets
– Decentralized markets, that let you trade digital assets, or even trade “predictions” about events in the real world
– Games where you own in-game assets, and can even make real money
– And much, much more.
The Ethereum community is the largest and most active blockchain community in the world. It includes core protocol developers, cryptoeconomic researchers, cypherpunks, mining organizations, ETH holders, app developers, ordinary users, anarchists, fortune 500 companies, and, as of now, you.
There is no company or centralized organization that controls Ethereum. Ethereum is maintained and improved over time by a diverse global community of contributors who work on everything from the core protocol to consumer applications. This website, just like the rest of Ethereum, was built – and continues to be built – by a collection of people working together.