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Ethereum, the second most valuable cryptocurrency in existence at the time of writing. is an open software platform based on blockchain technology that enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications.
A Bit of History
Ethereum was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer. Development was funded by an online crowdsale between July and August 2014. The system went live on 30 July 2015, with 11.9 million eth coins "premined" for the crowdsale. This accounts for approximately 13 percent of the total circulating supply.
In 2016, as a result of the collapse of The DAO project, Ethereum was forked into two separate blockchains - the new forked version became Ethereum (ETH), and the original continued as Ethereum Classic (ETC).
Most recently in February 2019, Ethereum updated with their latest release "Constantinople/St. Petersburg". It is important to know that Constantinople was scheduled for release in early 2019, however, after some bugs were discovered in the protocol’s code, developers decided to postpone its release until they fixed the errors, guaranteeing users can test the best possible version of Ethereum.
Precisely to avoid these problems, the St. Petersburg upgrade disabled a part of Constantinople’s code that contained flaws in the security of Smart contracts. The Constantinople protocol was an update that served as preparation for a radical change in the structure of the Ethereum Blockchain. Ethereum 2.0 is seen as a PoS blockchain with second layer developments that will allow an very high number of TPS with low energy consumption (with a few optimizations in the code) and an economic model that stimulates savings by increasing the value of the circulating tokens.
What is Ethereum?
In short, Ethereum wants to be a ‘World Computer’ that would decentralize – and some would argue, democratize – the existing client-server model. With Ethereum, clouds and servers are replaced by thousands of “nodes” run by volunteers from across the world. The vision is that Ethereum would enable this same functionality to people anywhere around the world, enabling them to compete to offer services on top of this infrastructure.
Scrolling through a typical app store, for example, you’ll see a variety of colorful squares representing everything from banking to fitness to messaging apps. These apps rely on the company (or another third-party service) to store your credit card information, purchasing history and other personal data – somewhere, generally in servers controlled by third-parties.
Your choice of apps is of course also governed by third parties, as Apple and Google maintain and curate (or in some cases, censor) the specific apps you’re able to download.
Take the example of an online document service like Evernote or Google Docs.
Ethereum, if all goes according to plan, would return control of the data in these types of services to its owner and the creative rights to its author.
The idea is that one entity will no longer have control over your notes and that no one could suddenly ban the app itself, temporarily taking all of your notebooks offline. Only the user can make changes, not any other entity.
In theory, it combines the control that people had over their information in the past with the easy-to-access information that we’re used to in the digital age. Each time you save edits, or add or delete notes, every node on the network makes the change.
How It Works
Ethereum uses the same idea as Bitcoin, but instead of just keeping track of payments, you keep track of computer programs. These computer programs can still be used to track money if you want. But they can also be used for many other things, like deciding whether someone is allowed to drive a car or who has won an election. At any given time, everyone knows exactly what the computer programs are doing, even if someone tries to lie and pretend something different is happening.
Because the rules are so secure and easy to follow, even simple devices like phones or locks can be programmed to obey what everyone has agreed to. And the way of doing this is strong enough that attackers or malfunctioning computers can't break the rules that have been set up. So people can feel secure using Ethereum for billions of dollars, controlling ownership of their cars and houses, or other valuable things without worrying that someone will be able to steal from them or cheat them.
It's hard to say what all Ethereum will be used for, because it can be used for anything you can write a computer program to do. But if there's a situation where you want to keep track of something, and it would be a problem if someone could hack or manipulate the results, it's a good bet that Ethereum can help! The results will look like regular websites or mobile apps, but will be completely uncheatable. As long as it's built right, not even the person who makes the app will have the power to break the rules they agreed to.
Ethereum Explainer Video