Who would have thought that a 19-year-old from Toronto could write a whitepaper nearly as influential as Satoshi Nakamoto’s (Bitcoin founder)?
A few years after Bitcoin’s launch, a young programmer and student of blockchain technology named Vitalik Buterin wrote a whitepaper imagining the Ethereum platform. While Bitcoin’s blockchain was primarily designed to handle transaction information, Ethereum is designed to offer a blockchain protocol for anything that can be programmed, which includes what are called smart contracts and decentralized applications (Ðapps). Buterin had been writing about Bitcoin and blockchain technology for a failed Bitcoin blog-site before he became a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine at age 17, helping it become one of the most influential organizations in the cryptocurrency world today. Over the following two years, his analytical mind and driven personality found creative ways to apply his in-depth knowledge of blockchains, contributing to several projects in the open-source cryptocurrency community.
Eventually, his ideas took on a shape that he called Ethereum, which he published in a whitepaper in 2013. His business partner and co-founder of Bitcoin magazine, a young Romanian named Mihai Alisie, is also credited with co-founding Ethereum, as are a small cast of characters including Joseph Lubin, a Canadian Princeton graduate who helped establish and run the Swiss Ethereum entities that enabled them to legally receive crowdfunding from anonymous sources to get the project off the ground. Ethereum was in development during 2014 and the first client software, Frontier, was released in 2015.
The founders laid out a timeline for the development of Ethereum over various stages, which all have names, such as Homestead, which is the phase the Ethereum Project is in now, and Metropolis and Serenity, which we have yet to see. It has become the most popular platform for new cryptocurrencies to use for ICOs and the standard protocol upon which most new private blockchains are built and tested. Essentially, Ethereum is still being created, mostly by the core development team with offices in Switzerland, but also by the thousands of developers experimenting with the platform. How it will evolve is largely dependent on variables that are yet unknown.
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